Pop-up shops a temporary solution to the empty storefront

With commercial real estate continuing to reel from the economic downturn, some major brands are looking at temporary leases in heavy volume areas.  Empty storefronts are not good for anyone, and leases in desireable areas have become much more flexible.

These “pop-up” stores are potential strategies for fledging businesses trying out a concept, artists promoting their work, and districts working to maintain a critical energy level. And a well-executed, intentionally temporary use sends a very different message than a space that unintentionally turns over after a 90-day stint by a poorly planned business.

While a major car company may not be looking at your district to establish a pop-up store as Ford did in Portland last month to promote the new Fiesta, their model might spark local thinking about temporary uses for your vacant spaces.  The space Ford is in had been empty for two years.

With the holiday shopping season approaching, now might be a great time to encourage a creative use for a critical vacancy in your district.  If the property owner is willing, work with him or her and a brainstorming team to identify potential pop-ups that would complement existing businesses. 

Here are some quick thoughts: a seasonal Halloween or holiday store in a vacant space could bring new shoppers into the district.  Perhaps a successful charity such as goodwill would be interested in setting one up, or maybe a local club already has a holiday sales event that could use a temporary space. A successful home-based business might be a good candidate for a pop-up, or the local arts or craft guild might want to try one.  

If you have a local theater group (or maybe even the high school theater club), you might enlist their set design skills in creating an entertaining and attractive space.  Use your revitalization network to help promote the temporary store. And remember, the more people you involve in the effort, the more people will support it during its run.

Interested in reading more?  Try Inc. Magazine’s recent article, “How to Open a Pop-up Store.”