Pop-up shops: an emerging merchandising trend

Tucson locals shop at Cultivate Tucson’s 2017 Fall market. Photo by: Nieves Montaño

Here today, gone tomorrow—the motto of the $50 billion industry of pop-up shops.

Companies such as Coca-Cola, Prada and Audi have utilized this unique market to not only build brand awareness but use it as a test market for new product lines.

With the successful nature and newfound livelihood of these pop-up shops, Kristin Tovar and Claire Seizovic found a way to organize pop-up shops while benefitting the Tucson community. Cultivate Tucson, a team of five women, hosts pop-up events in emerging spaces as a way to highlight Tucson’s independent shops, artists and creators.

“The goal is to bring awareness to things being made in Tucson, not only for those who live here, but also so people outside of Tucson can get an idea of what is being made here,” said Tovar.

In addition to helping new companies and introducing the Tucson community to each other, vendors from the market donate 5 percent of their earnings to a non-profit. Each market focuses on a different non-profit.

Cultivate Tucson hosts two markets every year, with anywhere from 40 to 50 local vendors.

Vendors must apply and be chosen to set up a table or booth at the market.

“We receive applications for three times the number of spots we have, so unfortunately we have to turn down people.” Tovar said, “Some are a better fit, but our overall goal is to grow the community.”

But what makes these temporary shops so successful? The fear of missing out.

“We don’t pop up in the same building or parking lot,” Tovar said, “every market is different in that sense. If you miss out on that, you miss out the whole experience.”

Tucson locals walk through the Fall 2017 market. Photo by: Nieves Montaño

For vendors, these markets give them the opportunity to test their product.

“The market forces them to think backwards in terms of what products they have, how much of them, and what to price them at,” Tovar said, “I’ve seen it really push people to the limits they want to get to.”

Cultivate Tucson’s goal is for these vendors to outgrow the market, meaning that their company has taken off.

Promotion through social media channels like Instagram and Facebook before, during and after the market is key to furthering this model. It is important that all brand messages guide users back to the brand.

These should include words that “align with your pop-up goals, brand message, values and promise,” according to Shopify, “Then, create one hashtag to help you track your campaign leading up to, during and after your pop-up store is open.”

For the past year and a half, the University of Arizona bookstore also hosts in-store pop-up shops seasonally.

Previous companies include Rainbow, Chubbies and Champion.

“We really like to look for start-up companies, especially those started by students on campus,” said Nadia Schutt, assistant clothing buyer at the bookstore.

The University of Arizona bookstore hosts Chubbies as their April 2018 pop-up shop. Photo by: Marissa Einck

With the use of social media, email and website promotions, students are drawn in to shop brands they may not have in-store access to otherwise.

The store has seen an increase of traffic and sales from these pop-up shops.

“The [pop-up] shops bring in students and increase our sales,” Schutt said, “It’s revenue we would not make otherwise.”

Vendors and companies who take part in pop-up shops are required to have a city business license. Depending on the lease agreement and city regulations, a special events license may suffice.

Additionally, state and city taxes are paid by the vendor or company individually.

Cultivate Tucson will be hosting their Spring market on Saturday, April 21 at the Chicago Music store in the heart of downtown Tucson.

Marissa Einck is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at marissaeinck@email.arizona.edu

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