The last couple of years have seen pop up stores exploding to a point they are becoming key to any retail strategy. We’ve selected some of the most successful & creative pop-up store examples from around the world, with the key takeaways you can learn from. Get inspiration from these pop-up shop ideas and create customers for life!
Pop up store concepts for expanding reach to untapped customer bases
1. Kanye West: giving access to merch beyond the concert venues
Kanye West‘s live performances being systematically sold out, his team decided, instead of going the traditional route and selling fan gear inside the concert venue, to open a pop-up in a public space where fans could purchase branded apparel even if they couldn’t score concert tickets. Which showed tremendous success, as this is a tactic used for every tour: after the first attempt with Storefront support for the Yeezus tour, the king of grandeur established his Life of Pablo merch pop-up shop not in 1, but 21 cities around the world. The shops were opened for Yeezy fans to purchase exclusive products for a few days in cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Singapore, Melbourne or Cape Town.
Success Takeaway: Kanye himself claimed the stores made a staggering $1 million dollars in two days.
Just like Kanye & along with a lot of other rappers or singers, Drizzy also launched his own merch pop-up shops tours. Drake stopped in New York and Los Angeles to sell Drizzy-quote-emblazoned tees, hoodies and caps to mobs of excited fans.
2. Kylie Jenner: foray into physical retail
Reality TV star and makeup sensation Kylie Jenner has mobilized the crowds with her Kylie pop-up in Los Angeles. Customers were able to shop Kylie Cosmetics products previously only available online, including the unprecedented holiday collection, but also merch products such as lingerie, hoodies, and t-shirts with the celebrity’s name or face.
3. Seapony: making the rounds to expand its audience
Seapony Couture is a bold accessories line that has benefited from opening several jewelry pop-up stores in various San Francisco neighborhoods. By engaging with different demographics, the brand gained wider exposure and increased networking opportunities.
4. Topshelf: selling on the road as a lifestyle
Mobile fashion truck TopShelf was used to rolling into craft fairs, markets, and other outdoor events. By thinking outside of the mobile “box” and opening up a stationary Pop-Up Store, TopShelf gained a steady, loyal customer base. This could also work for food trucks, car companies, and brands that utilize kiosks and vending machines.
Pop up store ideas bridging online and offline
5. Art.com: going offline to offer inspiration and discovery
Art.com is a leading online marketplace for fine art prints. But it’s one thing to see a jpeg of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on a computer screen and another to appreciate it in person. In a pioneering move at the time, the platform opened with Storefront a one-month pop-up gallery in San Francisco to showcase together art and other unique crafts. Noticeable features:
- Online-to-Offline: projection in the store a crowdsourced real-time showcase of art trending on art.com’s community feed
- Design Bar: assistance from design experts to find and custom-frame the pieces
- Curation of collections from art experts and participating designers, rotating exhibitions
- Instant photo printing from Instagram or camera roll and turning them into art. A feature that was particularly innovative at the time (2013!)
6. J.Hilburn: custom fitting as the first foray into physical retail
Until this, J.Hilburn had sold exclusively online and through its direct sales model, directly sending to customers at their home or office. Through their first pop up store A Fortnight in SoHo, the brand’s trained personal stylists were treating shoppers to a signature custom fitting and help them find the perfect items to match their lifestyle and personality, creating a truly personalized experience. With meticulous attention to detail, the space was treated like a canvas where the fine details recede and allow the clothes to shine. Particularly notable: knowing that its target customers weren’t fond of marathon shopping sprees, the shop featured elegant seating that encouraged shoppers to unwind and appreciate their surroundings.
7. Storenvy: gathering ecommerce brands under one umbrella
Storenvy understands that there is power in numbers. The ecommerce platform played host to a pop-up marketplace in San Francisco. Brands who used Storenvy to power their ecommerce operations were invited to participate in an offline store, which allowed Storenvy to leverage multiple brands’ followings to build hype and foot traffic.
What’s really interesting with this popup is transactions are still done online, not with a POS, and each vendor is completely in control of his or her own spot.
8. ThredUP, RealReal & Luxury Garage Sale: leveraging online data to setup physical pop up locations
Today, people have become smarter shoppers not only with their pockets but by sharing exclusive deals and sales with each other. This is facilitated even more with social media. Retailers and secondhand e-commerce companies like ThredUp, the RealReal and Luxury Garage Sale are cashing in on the consignment concept using customer data its already collected online and translating it into the physical realm.
As ThredUp is experimenting with brick-and-mortar locations, Luxury Garage Sales announced a month-long pop-up shop idea in Atlanta. This cool pop up shop idea offers one-on-one styling and full-service consignment purposes.
The RealReal is also on a pop-up tour, rolling out pop up shop display activations in new cities to capture its online audience through in-store sales inside creative physical spaces. Utilizing the power of online marketing data and the off-pricing trend, similar brands can use this tactic to launch a pop up of their own.
Creative pop up shops to offer a unique or exclusive experience
9. Ministry of Supply: on-demand, tailored fit
Ministry of Supply was the first company to mesh high-performance activewear with professional attire. With such an inventive and ingenious design, it made sense to capture the public’s attention before potential competitors sprang up. The DTC brand has based its retail footprint primarily on pop-ups: after a successful store in Soho, NYC, with Storefront, they launched this Santa Monica pop up equipped with thermal mirrors. The equipment finds out which part of your body produces the most heat, and allow the manufacturer to produce a 3-D Print-Knit sweater fully custom to your exact body characteristics. Customers who did not want to actually order were invited to use the thermal cameras like a photo booth for a very instagrammable shot.
10. Nike iD Air Max: exclusive product customization
To celebrate the Air Max sneaker, Nike launched a pop-up boutique where visitors could customize and create a unique Air Max in a futuristic and colorful environment thanks to the iD platform.
11. Pantone Café: serving color-coded snacks
After 2 summers in Monaco, Pantone Cafe has established its café in Paris’ Jardin des Tuileries during Fashion Week, enabling us to taste the Pantone colors and stimulate all our senses. Each edible actually corresponds to a matching hue.
12. Modify Watches: collecting customer opinions
Customizable watch brand Modify Watches (now part of Custom Ink) believes in fun and originality as the cornerstone of its business model. Though the company only offers one type of product (watches), they understand that their customers aren’t created equal. Within one product category, they offer over 300 variations. The Modify Watches pop-up store functioned as both a storefront and a sounding board where customers could voice opinions about what they’d like to see in future collections. The pop up store was also a way to experience how the product was made, as the watches were assembled live.
13. Google: exclusive peek at the new tech
Google established itself in a New York pop up shop to showcase its latest groundbreaking products. Tech enthusiasts rushed to try the highly anticipated Pixel phone, Google Home, and Daydream VR headsets.
14. Adidas NDM 6-day street culture celebration
To launch its new NMD shoe brand, Adidas created one of the most hyped pop-up stores London has ever seen. Located in Shoreditch, NDM Future House was a 6-day/6-night pop-up hosting DJ sets, art performances, film screenings, and celebrating creativity, art, and underground culture.
15. RIPNDIP: mixing the shopping experience with art
The RIPNDIP label opened a shop and an art gallery to celebrate its Spring collection. The iconic character Lord Nermal the cat were painted all over the outside wall and attracted many curious visitors.
16. BEAMS Japan: creating hype for exclusive products
The streetwear brand made its way around the globe to settle in Paris for 12 days last summer. The Le Marais pop-up store has also featured brands such as Loopwheeler, orSlow and Sasquatchfabrix, in addition to BEAMS’ “Made in Japan” line.
17. Vetements: causing hysteria with surgically timed pop ups and flash sales
Vetements, the new fashion sensation, which every fashion show is now an unmissable event, stopped in Los Angeles for one day only. With its “Dry Cleaning”, Vetements have made one of the most innovative pop-ups.
Creating emotional appeal with your pop up shop concept
18. Fila: using nostalgia to drive sales
As retailers cash in on selling vintage styles and heritage pieces, pop up shop ideas are going retro. This in turn drives engagement, foot traffic, and buzz!
Fila is opening pop-up stores in NYC with Storefront – plus 3 additional ones worldwide – for the relaunch of its popular Mindblower ‘90s shoe, originally released in 1995. The brand set up its Soho shop for a limited time, and had 650 people come through its doors on just the first day.
Fila also tapped influencers to create their own version of the ‘Mindblower’ sneaker, and put them prominently on display in-store. This pop up shop display idea created a lot of media hype and drew wide attention to the space.
Streetwear label Cherry Los Angeles is also using nostalgia for its debut collection, opening a pop-up installation on the historic Fairfax Avenue. Titled ‘MICRODOSE’, the installation was feature iconic ‘90s images sprinkled on the pieces.
19. Northern Grade: cashing on the vintage appeal
Northern Grade (now American Field) is a menswear line with classic sensibilities. In designing their pop-up shop, the Northern Grade team created an atmosphere that deeply reflected the brand’s personality using rustic tables, magnifying glasses, refurbished pallets, and vintage trunks. Walking into the pop-up shop felt like walking into a bachelor pad in the 1930s. Unique displays and lifestyle elements that represent your brand guarantee a memorable experience for anyone who walks in your store.
Popping up with a cause
20. Harrod: embracing children protection
Driving consumers to your store for a charitable purpose is a pop-up shop idea brands are also successfully employing. Harrod recently unveiled its luxury charity pop-up store idea with NSPCC. The pop-up boutique, open the rest of the month, is located in a place called Fashion Re-Told. All of the clothes sold were donated by Harrod’s customers and employees, with proceeds going directly to NSPCC. The retailer’s mission for this pop-up shop idea was to make the space entirely Instagrammable. As their Head of Visual Merchandising states, “when you’re doing a charitable initiative if you don’t generate noise on every platform, you’re never going to make it a success.”
While Harrods didn’t profit from the pop-up store, their brand identity certainly gained value from it. Not only did they reinvent the experience of shopping with Harrods, but they also proved that their commitment to their values was genuine.
21. The Street Store: turning donations into a shopping experience for the homeless
Who said that pop-up stores were just about selling products? Not Deepika Phakke of The Street Store, who with the support of Episcopal Community Services organized a pop-up giving homeless people the opportunity to freely shop for those things they need and give them dignity with a shopping experience that allows them to choose what they like.
22. TCHO: connecting the product experience with how it’s made
Artisanal chocolatier TCHO opened up a pop-up store in San Francisco to let foodies try their delicious and unique product. The shop was as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the belly, and was providing full details about the ten-year-old company’s scientist-monitored bean-to-bar laboratories in cacao-growing communities and its relationships with cacao farmers around the world.
23. India Store: a pop up to experience the hand-picked product
Setting a clear pop-up shop idea and concept drives more consumers and media attention. Storefront worked with India Store to create a pop-up shop in Hong Kong where customers can feel the quality of the hand-picked fabrics. With this physical store, the brand can show off its items and connect with customers, who also benefit from this in-person experience. India Store is a simple pop up shop idea that’s well-executed and has the customer in mind.
What can we learn from these pop up store concepts?
The last couple of years saw some of the most hyped pop-up stores ever. With social media playing a vital role in the promotion and inevitable success of these pop-ups, it’s clear to see that typical advertising techniques previously used to get customers into stores are rendered irrelevant when it comes to pop-up stores. Keeping your audience in-the-know builds engagement and creates a connection they’re likely to share.
Exclusivity is Key
According to a PopUp Republic poll, 39% of shoppers indicated that the main reason they’d visit a pop-up store would be because of exclusive products or services on offer. Limited edition products, one-off events, and special appearances are a sure-fire way to build hype as your pop-up approaches. Sharing teasers across social media platforms emphasizing the ‘get it before it’s gone’ notion will generate the kind of buzz that money can’t buy among your audience.
Be Smart with Gimmicks
Make your pop-up work beyond the shop floor by giving people something to talk about. Creative signage and store-fits that provide photo opportunities will give people something to post on their Instagram whilst also elevating your products. This extra effort could also serve to cement your brand’s key values or mission, further engaging your audience to make for a lasting connection.