The Era of the Pop-Up Shop & Why They are Trending

What is a Pop-Up Shop?

It’s an easy to understand concept with endless possibilities. A Pop-Up Shop can be defined as “any temporary retail space that sells products” according to the blog What is a Pop-Up Shop published by The Storefront. From brick-and-motor seasonal stores to motorized fundraising vehicles, you can spot these trending shops everywhere. Now it’s time to expand the variety of pop-up shops to include online, single-page, order forms or what us awesome promo people call Simple Stores.

Why are Pop-Up Shops trending?

There are a lot of reason these temporary shops are so popular. Below are the top 4 reasons this trend is likely to stick around.

1. Pop-Up Shops Create a Sense of Purpose with Cause-Related Marketing

Cause-related marketing is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. In PPAI’s article Forces For Good: The Heros Among Us, Afdhel Aziz, co-author of Good Is the New Cool. Market Like you Give a Damn, states:

Plenty of distributorships have developed their own cause-related marketing strategy or paired up with a non-profit. One of the biggest hurdles they face is the challenge of pricing. Finding the perfect product and an online platform to perform the fundraiser on that is within budget can be challenging in the promo world, at least until recently.

Pop-Up Shops aka Simple Stores allow distributors to offer a low-cost store that just happens to be ideal for fundraising thanks to its optional Order Goal feature. Shoppers get to feel that their purchase made a difference and contributed to reaching a common goal by seeing how the Order Goal Tracker increases after their order is placed. Plus, they get some cool branded swag that will spread the word for a cause that’s near and dear to their heart.

2. Pop-Up Shops Generate Buzz

Something that is short term creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity. Remember Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino? It was obnoxiously cute and totally Instagram worthy but it wasn’t that great. So why were there were lines out the door at almost every Starbucks? Simple, it was marketed as a limited time drink and limited time translates to consumers as get it now.

Each Simple Store includes an email marketing feature, so you can get the word out quickly about your clients limited time products. Or take a page of inspiration out of Johnny Cupcakes playbook. Each Friday, he releases a new t-shirt design available for one day only.  Not only does it generate buzz but those lucky customers that snag the exclusive gear will act as brand ambassadors. Now that’s smart marketing.

 3. Pop-Up Shops Build Brand Awareness & Community Engagement

Unless you’ve been living under a brick for the past decade (or week!) you’ve likely heard of Elon Musk. Known as a brilliant and eccentric billionaire he’s the CEO and founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company and was the co-founder of Paypal. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about businesses, brand awareness, and building a cult-like following.

According to Brendan Menapace’s article Elon Musk Has Raised the Bar of Promotional Advertising Forever in late 2017, Musk started “selling the world’s most boring hat” and half-jokingly (or so everyone thought) promised to start selling flame throwers if 50,000 hats were sold. He quickly met his target and delivered on his quirky promise of a flamethrower. Neither products are anything extraordinary nor do they have any correlation with what the company actually does which according to the company’s website is, “to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic….(with) a large network of tunnels”.  Musk used these products as a way of generating buzz, fundraising, and building brand awareness for his new company and ended up bringing in a total of $11M.

Why did people purchase these seemingly random products? My hunch? 45 percent of the people wanted to be part of his Company’s vision of an improved infrastructure, 45% of them believe in Elon Musk and what he stands for, and 10% just really wanted a flamethrower. He didn’t need VC’s to invest in his company, he wanted the public to invest in something they believed in. As Brendan Menapace states,

“Between flamethrowers, “manned” space travel in electric cars and, well, hats, Musk and his various business ventures are absolutely changing the game for promotional advertising, and showing the possibilities of how to do it in the 21st century. They’re obviously reaching audiences and building brand visibility, the sales numbers proved that, along with the resale value.”

In order to turn a profit, you want people to not only recognize your client’s brand but feel like they want to be a part of it. As Johnny Earle stated,

What can differentiate your distributorship is the experience you create for your clients and the value you add. Your clients don’t come to you for the products you carry. In this industry we all have access to the same product lines. Client’s see you as an extension of their marketing team. They come to you for the ideas and creativity you bring to the table. As their distributor they expect you to come with ideas on how to generate buzz and effectively market a generic black hat with their logo.

If you like Musk’s style, start a Simple Store with one product and send out an email campaign promising your client’s shoppers that whenever the Order Goal is reached another cool, limited time product or design will be released.

4. Pop-Up Shops are Low Risk & Low Cost 

Shelling out money for your first eCommerce store can be nerve-racking especially if it’s something that was requested on the fly by your client. Some of the most common hesitations we hear from distributors are things like:

  • – Is it going to be successful?
  • – Will I sell enough products to cover the cost of the store and monthly hosting fee?
  • – How will I manage orders?
  • – What’s the ROI?
  • – Is an online store worth all the hype?
  • – How much time will this cost me per week?
  • – How long will it take to set up my store?

If your client is hesitant or still figuring out their pain points, temporary pop-up shops are a great way to test the waters.

At just 50 cents an order and set-up that takes around 5 minutes, you can provide your client with a central, online, ordering location. Both you and your client can get an idea of how profitable an online store can be before investing your time and money into a fleshed-out Company Store.

What’s Stopping You?

What do all 4 of these reasons have in common? They all add value to your distributorship and set you apart from the competition. With so many different ways to use online pop-up shops, and such a low cost of entry, why wouldn’t you give them a try?

Afterall, according to our founder Dan Halama, in Jen Alexander’s article One-Click Wonder,


Julie Richie – Forces For Good: The Heroes Among Us – Article Link

PPAI Staff – Johnny Cupcakes Hits a Sweet Spot with Marketers – Article Link

Brendan Menapace – Elon Musk Has Raised the Bar of Promotional Advertising Forever – Article Link

Alanna Petroff, Julie Horowitz & Bill Burke – Elon Musk Says He Has Sold Out of Flamethrowers – Article Link

Jen Alexander – One-Click Wonders – Article Link

Storefront Team – What is a Pop-Up Shop? – Article Link

The Boring Company – Website Link


This post was written by Lucy Taylor