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The Definitive Guide on How to Start Your Own Pop Up Shop

Experiential Marketing

Pop up shops are temporary storefronts intended to establish a brick-and-mortar presence, particularly for entrepreneurs that maintain a strong digital presence through e-commerce. 

They are designed to allow potential customers the opportunity to browse their goods and interact with their brand in a more intimate experience, with the intended goal of increasing awareness for their online marketplace. 

While they often take the form of a temporary location chartered for a month or two, or perhaps mobile locations (such as food trucks), they also exist as promotional events which may only last a day or three.  

Whatever form or duration the pop up shop takes, they can create a unique experience for your clientele and launch your brand to new heights. 

But what does it take to get started?

Not to worry– we will show you exactly how to start your own pop up shop!

Build the Foundation with Skillful Planning

Any time you wish to begin a new endeavor, the key to its success usually lies in the preparation stage. Throwing yourself into a significant venture without a roadmap will more than likely end in disaster, so the first step involves patience. 

While you may be excited to engage with your customers face to face and show them how incredible your products are, you want the pop up shop experience to not only be successful, but to meet a specific goal. If you do not have a good idea of what that is, take the time to figure it out.

Set a Measurable Goal

You should always have a primary goal when you are determining how to start your own pop up shop. It is fine to have secondary goals as well, but ask yourself what it is you really hope to achieve from this experience. 

Are you trying to drive traffic to your online storefront? Maybe you have an idea for a new product and you want to get feedback or test the market first. Perhaps your focus is more about the brand rather than the product – creating an incredible experience for your target clientele can help you build a positive and enduring reputation. 

Then, come up with a measurable goal. That means defining some specific parameters, whether sales numbers, online customers using a special discount code received at your event, or some other collectible data, so you can evaluate whether your objective is successful. 

Whatever you seek – establish that goal and then work backwards to design the ultimate shopping experience.  

Know Your Limits

During the planning stages, you should also set a budget. To keep your pop up venture from spiraling out of control, decide exactly how much money you are willing to spend. 

Your pop up shop duration period and the cost of your selected venue may be the major strain on your budget, but make sure to take into account more than just your rent – consider other costs, too, such as those involving promotion, product costs, payroll, utilities, etc. 

When you establish your limitations, you will know exactly what finances you have to work with so that you have a baseline to use to determine success and to mitigate risk. 

Crunch the numbers and once you have a budget that works for you and your business, stick to it! However, it is not a bad idea to include a set flex budget to account for any unexpected or unplanned expenses – an emergency fund, if you will.

Choose a Venue

There are a wide variety of options available to host a pop up shop. That means you have the opportunity to find a venue that works for you and your brand (as well as your budget). While you may have a picture of what you want your storefront to be already established, always shop around and consider the many choices at your disposal. 

Some great ideas for potential pop up shops are:

  • Temporary showrooms, such as galleries
  • Major events or festivals
  • Seasonal markets
  • A traveling store
  • Within a popular mall location
  • A site or pavilion at a park area
  • A special event at a community center
  • Setting up within existing stores
  • Locations within designated pop up communities

Those are just a small taste of what is at your disposal. Each community offers unique opportunities and locations, so do your research and compare costs. Obviously, some events are harder on the wallet than others, but you may be able to work out a deal with site representatives that fits your budget. 

Make sure to visit your pop up space before you make a final decision on your location, as this is a crucial step in not only determining your satisfaction but also entering the next planning phase.

If you feel overwhelmed at this point, don’t worry– there are actually experts out there, such as StoreFront, who exist specifically to help you find a venue for a pop up shop. It never hurts to consult with experts or professionals during any step of the process.

That extends to legal matters as well. Wherever you establish yourself, make sure that you possess all proper licenses and permissions before you set up! It is also in your best interest to consider insurance for your event or location because you can never anticipate everything that could go wrong, so as the saying goes: better safe than sorry.

Getting Set Up

Once you have chosen and acquired a venue, it’s time to actually figure out how to start your own pop up shop, and that means getting everything set up on site, so you can open for business.

Pre-Opening

Remember that it’s not as easy as just showing up and moving product in, there are some considerations you need to resolve beforehand: 

  • Are your staffing needs established?
  • Do you have a system in place for transactions?
  • Will you need storage space?
  • What design scheme will you use for your space?
  • What will your store policies be? 
  • Will you have facilities such as restrooms for your clientele? 
  • What additional supplies will you need to conduct business?
  • How are you going to promote your brand and venue?
  • What techniques will you use to bring customers into your store?
  • What is your strategy to meet your targeted, measurable goal?
  • Are there any other needs you need to fulfill before opening?

Keep in mind, it is never too soon to start building excitement over your newest venture. Social media is a great tool for spreading the word, whether through your personal or business accounts, or by making use of marketing tools and advertising to draw in your new audience.

Game Time

This is where all your planning finally becomes reality. Using the data collected through your planning phase, bring in your team (if you have one) and start designing your look or event. 

Once you have the pop up looking stellar, it is time to make a few last decisions to ready your opening.

  • Will you have any special grand opening event (if your location is intended for a month or more)?
  • Are there any special deals or giveaways you want to hold in order to encourage people to stop by your location?
  • What will your operational hours be? Is this posted clearly?
  • Is everything in your location working? Make sure to test everything to avoid any unexpected hiccups. 
  • Is your location clean and attractive? 
  • If your venue is outside, have you followed the weather to ensure it is expected to cooperate during your planned operational period?
  • Ensure that you have not violated any expectations set by the venue ownership agency and have contact information at hand in case you need to make an inquiry. 

Your needs will fluctuate based on your location, product, and operational needs, but this guide should help ensure that you are fundamentally prepared to host your event. The rule of the day is to expect the unexpected. Have as many backup plans in place as you can to ensure that your store experience is as smooth as possible for you and your clientele. 

Also, your event is a great promotional tool. Take ludicrous amounts of pictures of your brand in action!

Wrap Up

Once your pop up store experience comes to a close, hopefully you enjoyed a unique and valuable experience along with your new clients. Undoubtedly there were bumps along the road, but that is to be expected when you are managing an undertaking of such magnitude, especially if it is your first time. 

Now that your pop up venture has reached its conclusion, it is time to perform follow-up responsibilities. 

First, make sure that you have appropriately cleaned up your pop up location and returned any requested items or keys to their respective owners. Make sure to thank everyone involved that made this experience a reality, including your own staff and employees (or family members!). 

Next, evaluate your results and data from your pop up store and compare those toward your success metrics. 

Did you achieve the goal(s) you set out to accomplish? If not, what could you have done differently to meet them? 

Reflection is an important part of the process and is important so that you can learn from your mistakes, even if your project was a raving success. Take notes so that if you decide you want to repeat this experience, either in the same community or somewhere else entirely, you remember both what worked and what needs improvement. 

Take the time to reach out to your clientele after the fact (if possible) to offer your thanks, as well as featuring the event and positive outcomes on your social media, website, or advertising for your brand. Make use of any pictures from the event to promote your brand image and draw new customers. 

Now that you know how to start your own pop up shop, the next time will be even bigger and even better!

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5 Unforgettable Summer Promos

Experiential Marketing

The success of outdoor brand promotions and product launches depends significantly on the amount of foot-traffic in a given area— generally, the busier the street, the more successful your branded event. 

This means that it’s important not only to think about which city areas are more popular than others, but also, which time(s) of year will bring the highest ROI. With summer just around the corner, it’s worth noting that the summer season is the perfect time to get outside for an unforgettable summer promo. 

During these months, brands all across the board get the opportunity you to capitalize on the fact that more people spend time outside. This of course means that a branded street event gets more visibility and traction than ever.

So, while you’re thinking about how to take the experiential approach to promote your brand, take a look back at five amazing summer promos to get inspired.

1. Magnolia Bakery

In honor of the iconic Magnolia Bakery’s 25th birthday, the brand took to the streets of NYC and handed out complimentary cups of their famous banana pudding.

Over the course of two July weekends, the Magnolia banana pudding food truck was able to hand out over an impressive 3,000 servings and gain over 1.5M social media engagements. 

This summer promo was so successful because Magnolia Bakery took advantage of the summer heat by offering a treat to cool people down- and they also got creative.

Not only were guests given a free banana pudding cup, but they were also able to enter a raffle that gave them the opportunity to win an entire year’s worth of banana pudding. That much banana pudding definitely leaves a lasting impression. 

2. Forager Project

With our help, Forager Project’s vegan ice cream made its way to nine different locations across San Francisco in a fully-stocked branded food truck  that gave people the opportunity to sample Cookies & Cream, Chocolate, and Vanilla in the Californian summer heat.

For maximum effect, Food Truck Promotions made the consumer experience simple and straightforward: guests had the choice of signing up for the Forager newsletter or following Forager on Instagram to get their choice of an ice cream sample and a coupon code to buy the delicious, dairy-free product in-store.

This face-to-face experiential marketing campaign, as well as the savvy call-to-action, was able to turn many dairy-free skeptics into new, long-lasting customers for Forager Project. The branded vehicle gave out as many as 500 samples a day, which meant that the brand directly reached an astounding 4,500 people, not even to mention the growth that the activation sparked on social media.

In the end, we knew that all people needed from a Forager Project summer promo was one taste of the brand’s ice cream to get them on board with the dairy-free, vegan alternatives, so that’s exactly what we did.

3. Instagram

For the very last weekend of summer, Instagram brought their delicious helado to Miami Beach Latin Week. Miami beach-goers were able to enjoy fresh, complimentary ice cream from a show-stopping branded vehicle, as well as experience appearances from their favorite artists like Farruko and more. 

Because Miami Latin Week is so popular, this summer promo was the perfect way to continue promoting their new reels feature to a high-volume of people in a memorable way. 

Ironically, by creating an experience so unique, we helped Instagram itself became instagrammable. In other words, this summer promo was the perfect way for Instagram to promote itself on its own app and get users excited about their new feature.

4. Zara

In June 2019, Zara transformed a glass truck into a 3D Pride flag using 9,000 colorful Just Water bottles. Parked right in the excitement of the parade, Zara was able to make an important brand statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community, while also bringing general awareness to their clothing brand.

On a hot summer day, cold water is JUST what everyone needed. Brand ambassadors stood outside the truck handing out free waters and inviting attendees to celebrate with Zara. Attendees not only hydrated in style, but they got their bright on by staging photoshoots in front of the iconic rainbow truck, which made for the perfect backdrop for social posts to go viral.

This summer promo was definitely one unforgettable way to keep NYC hydrated, filled with love and pride, and dressed in Zara.

5. Aerie

Aerie’s Waffle Clothing line launched in summer of 2021, and to get the word out about their new line, Aerie partnered with us, serving tasty branded Belgian Boys waffles on a summer mobile tour that people wouldn’t forget. 

The summer promo took place in multiple cities like New York City, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, and DC. These big stops were the perfect destinations to grow awareness about Aerie’s new look, so in an extra effort to stay in theme and draw attention, Food Truck Promotions wrapped the truck in a one-of-a-kind waffle design that suited the tour perfectly.

All in all, Aerie capitalized on the summer months to put on a promo that would be truly interactive and immersive. The brand hit more than 5 cities, served 4,000 Belgian Boys Waffles, and garnered more than 3M impressions. 

Your Summer Promo is Next

If you’ve liked the work we’ve done with brands in the past, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team about your summer promo. 

Whether you’re looking for a mobile showroom, a mobile pop up, a mobile café, or a product sampling activation, we can help you execute the branded activation of your dreams.  

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