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Pop-Up Shops: Six ways to capitalize on the craze

Attracting a new community of customers isn't solely about drawing them to your location, part of a sound marketing plan is thinking like consumers and being where they are; enter pop-up shops, explains Behind the Gavel columnist Wayne Jordan.

It’s been said that in building a lucrative antiques business in the 21st century, dealers must be flexible and mobile. Flexible, in that they should be willing to adopt new tactics. Mobile, in that they must go where the buyers are, whether online, at a show, or in a restaurant.

Pop-Up Shops Provide Flexibility

Restaurant? Yes, restaurant. Dealers Sam DuPont and Jenn Jarecki discovered the value of restaurant cross-marketing when they joined 10 other shops for a Vintage Pop-up Market at the Arts Riot restaurant and event venue in Burlington, Vermont on January 25, 2018 [http ://]. The event was billed thus:

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“The first Vintage Pop-Up Market is happening at AR! We’re excited to welcome local vintage sellers into our event space to encourage you all to shop vintage. The dealers will be showcasing women’s and men’s vintage outerwear, sweaters, tops, bottoms, dresses, and footwear as well as a variety of housewares. We will be providing dressing rooms and the restaurant will be open!”

I hear comments echoing throughout antique shops nationwide: “Old news! I sell at fairs and shows regularly! What would I get at a pop-up market that I can’t get at an antique fair?

Attracting New Customers

I’ll answer in two words: New customers. That is, customers from a completely different demographic. Customers who would never set foot in your store or go to an antique show. The customers who shopped the Arts Riot event were Arts Riot customers: young, curious, and with eclectic tastes. Aren’t these the type of new customers antique and vintage dealers are begging for?

Lest you think that the Burlington event was a flash-in-the-pan, one-off event, let me assure you that’s not the case. Pop-up markets have been aggressively used by major retailers for about 15 years. The American Marketing Association says that pop-ups generate about $50 billion a year in retail sales. Commercial property owners love the events because they provide revenue from un-leased properties. Online sellers love them because they help bridge the gap between online selling and leasing a store. Bricks-and-mortar retailers like them because they tap into new markets and new demographics.

The auxiliary benefits of marketing at a pop-up event may exceed the value of any sales made. In a Seven Days interview with Sadie Williams [http ://], Jarecki said:

“Pop-ups give us the opportunity to work one-on-one with clients, to learn what ... clients are looking for, what styles they are drawn to, how they shop — these are incredibly helpful bits of information as one heads out on the hunt for ‘new’ pieces.”

Communicate Message agrees that a key benefit of pop-up marketing is to round-out a customer base:

“Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. A pop-up shop allows you to communicate your brand’s promise to your customers using a unique and engaging physical environment while creating an immersive shopping experience.” [http ://]

How can dealers capitalize on the pop-up trend? Here are six ways:
1. Consider the type of new customers you would like to attract. Then – and this is important – make sure you have an inventory that will appeal to them.

2. Choose the location and date carefully. Piggy-backing on another event will provide organic traffic and reduce your advertising spend. Pop-up Markets have been held at music venues, sports stadiums, and Classic Car Cruise-Ins, as well as in other retail stores. What’s important is finding a location that your target customers frequent, but that does not sell competing products. There’s a symbiotic effect at work here. Pop-Up Republic CEO Jeremy Baras explained to Retail Touch Points [http ://]:

Think Like the Consumer

“(Location) is all about your target market. Who do you want to be your ideal customer? If you want

your customer to be Millennials, most likely you would set up shop downtown, or set up in a location surrounded by other stores where Millennials shop, or in a shopping mall. Tailor your location not necessarily to heavily populated areas of towns or cities, but rather go into places where your target market exists and build a following that way.”

3. Think holidays and seasonal: Sell vintage clothing at Halloween; vintage toys at Christmas. In a poll by pop-up specialists PopUp Republic [https :// /], 61 percent of shoppers listed seasonal products as the primary reason to shop at a pop-up store. Other notable reasons were unique products, local assortments, and a fun experience [http ://].

4. Turn your presence into a media event (even if it’s only on social media). Use press releases. If your venue has its own mailing list and media team, tap into it.

Plan and Plan Some More

5. Have a customer engagement plan. Aside from sales, what do you want from customers? Email addresses? Product feedback? Any exchange of information between you and a customer has to offer value to both parties. What will you offer shoppers in exchange for their email and/or opinions? Coupons? Access to exclusive content on your website? Branded advertising specialties? Test several giveaway options.

6. Create Urgency. Baras emphasizes: “Customers are attracted to exclusivity. They’re attracted to a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ type of concept.” No one likes to miss out on a desirable product or a good deal. According to Loss Aversion Theory, customers would rather avoid a loss than acquire an equivalent gain; not losing $5 is better than finding $5. [http ://]

If you’re looking for new customers for your antique and vintage business, testing out a pop-up shop is certainly worth the effort. For more information on how to execute such an event, Shopify offers an excellent tutorial: and And EventBrite shares valuable instruction on how to promote such an event: 

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