What is a Pop-Up Shop?

pop-up (1)
Written by Erik Eliason

Whether you hear temporary retail, flash retailing, pop-up store, or pop-up shop, it is all one and the same. Pop-up shops are taking over the retail world and rethinking traditional brick-and-mortar and big-box stores, but what exactly is a shop that pops up?

Sighted as early as the 1990s in large urban cities such as Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and New York City, pop-up shops and pop-up retail are temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind. That’s right, just about every consumer product has been sold via a pop-up shop at one point in time. From art to fashion to tech gadgets and food, pop-ups are exciting because they create short-term stores that are just about as creative as they are engaging. And they come in all shapes and sizes.

Specific Details

  • Term. Typically 1 day to 3 months.
  • Location. High foot traffic areas such as city centers, malls, and busy streets.
  • Price. Much lower than a traditional store; typically paid upfront.
  • Use. Sell products, presence during holidays or events, launch new products, generate awareness, move inventory, test idea or location, increase ‘cool’ factor.

What are the benefits of a pop-up shop?

  • Connect with customers: The pop-up retail format allows you to personally get to know your customers and build stronger relationships.
  • Sell more: About 95% of all purchases are still completed offline. This is your opportunity to take advantage of the retail channel.
  • Build awareness: Consumers and the media love the excitement generated by pop-up shops. Build brand awareness by going offline.
  • It’s cheaper: Launching a pop-up shop is 80% cheaper than a traditional retail store.
  • Test new markets: Easily enter a new market and launch new products.

So, who can start pop-up shop?

eBay New York City Pop-Up Shop

The short answer is everyone. Big-name brands, including eBay, Target, JCPenney, and Gap, have tested hosting pop-up products in their stores. At the same time, local artists, makers and fashion designers have also become increasingly popular in the pop-up scene. Even mobile trucks for food, designer fashion and vintage housewares have been spotted around cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Where do they find space to pop-up?

Right here! Storefront is making the process of popping up easier than ever before. Market, mall, and store owners of all types are listing their spaces on for as little as $50/day.

Before Storefront it was a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process. Now it’s easy enough to do over lunch.

Simply search Storefront for retail spaces in your area and send a message to the space owner. All of our spaces have been photographed, vetted and are open to pop-up retail experiences. Plus, insurance for your business is free.

So, what are you waiting for? List your space or open your own pop-up shop today!

About the author

Erik Eliason

Erik is the Co-founder & CEO of Storefront. Merchants and small businesses are flourishing and we are excited to help them find the best stores, booths, and events to grow their business!

  • Steve Palmer

    I learned about Storefront about 30 minutes ago, visited your site and haven’t left yet. Fascinating concept, love the marketplace model, digging the focus on pop-ups. My mind is racing with ideas on marketing the popups, particularly where they are located. Full disclosure, we (our startup) enable on-demand location sharing for mobile vendors, merchants and food trucks. We’ve since begun adding events, wineries; pop-ups are on our radar.

    Anyway, great stuff – I signed up and added one space to my favorites. I am heading out to S.F. in a few weeks and thought I could use the space to do some soft launch/pr for our startup. Look forward to watching your growth.

    • Tristan

      Hi Steve,

      We really appreciate the feedback. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to connect further.

      You can reach me at



    • Storefront

      Steve, make sure to come check out the site and all of our recent updates!

  • Frugality Actuality

    Great article. Learned a lot that I didn’t know.

  • Dan S

    I really like the concept of Pop up Shops. What a great way to beautify
    an existing vacant structure. Have you heard of Pop up neighborhoods

    I see this is a huge opportunity for neighborhoods going through a tough economic crisis.

  • juliska

    Does the idea of a “pop up shop” also include things like taco trucks that move around to where the foot traffic is?

  • Karen Ioli

    Hi Erik: Great article. My client would like to contact Target to pitch a pop up concept for their brand. Any ideas on how I might found out who to contact there?

  • Gary Morgan

    hi i am Launching a new online store and wanted to hit the christmas ground running with a pop up store in 4 locations leading up to christmas… i could use some help in setting up the store as in point of sale retail display to present products…