An urban phenomenon that sparked consumer interest among fashionistas is now gaining street cred in the food world as well. Known as pop-ups, these extremely temporary marketplaces suddenly appear, fully stocked and ready for business — and just a few days or weeks later, they're gone.
The idea is to generate urgency and excitement through the limited-time format. Earlier this year, Target opened a temporary store in downtown Chicago called Bullseye Bazaar that showcased clothing from more than a dozen designers.
“It's a unique way to test consumer response without an even bigger commitment,” said Alexandra Sotereanos Sneed, a retail consultant with McMillan Doolittle, based in Chicago. She noted that the format could work well for supermarkets looking to showcase their latest food offerings, particularly store brands.
Openings have accelerated during the recession, as eager consumers seek out the kinds of deals pop-ups offer. For companies, the recession means having a host of potential venues to choose from.
“It's an opportunity to leverage current real estate vacancies,” said Sotereanos Sneed.
Pop-up stores are a good fit for health and wellness products because they tend to emphasize innovation and experimentation, observed Julia Falkenstein, a producer with Make Media, a creative agency based in New York. Last month, Falkenstein and a co-worker opened a natural and organic pop-up store in the city's eclectic SoHo neighborhood that sent all proceeds to charity. BoHo Bodega, as it was called, was modeled after an urban convenience store, complete with wooden shelves, crates and an ATM.
“Being there for a limited amount of time really drives traffic to the store,” said Falkenstein.
True to form, five days later, BoHo Bodega had closed its doors and vanished.