Pop-up stores: the new “happening” tool for brands

Pop-up stores are temporary retail outlets, which are opened by brands to launch a product or stage an event.

They first came into being during the financial crisis, to take advantage of empty spaces within stores. They are also a way of testing new markets before committing to a longer commercial lease. They are occasionally used to dispose of surplus stock or last season’s products. 

What’s happening in New York? 

Major brands’ pop-up stores 


For the third year in a row, Google is opening up pop-up stores in selected US cities.  The Google Hardware Store in New York is made up of three areas: Work, Life and Home, with Google’s products divided between them. For example, the Pixelbook and the new Pixel Slate are displayed in the Work section. The Pixel 3, the Pixel 3 XL and the Google Home hub are displayed in the Life section, and other Google Home devices in the Home section with Nest products). 

The products are arranged on wooden tables and underneath drawers. By opening these drawers, visitors can see sketches of the design process for the particular product.  


This highly visual space also offers an interesting experience as the customer is able to test all the products in situ: the cameras on Pixel phones, the Google Hub’s features in relation to video tutorials and personal assistants. Although there are lots of Google sales staff, customers are entirely free to test the products.   It is also a great way for Google to show off its new products and expertise.

Visitors are able to be photographed and have their photo printed, for example. Google’s artificial intelligence can even detect the number of people in the picture and print out the right number of photos  The store will close after the end of the 2018 Christmas holiday season. 


Timberland recently opened its first pop-up store in New York. A physical space where the message is simple: “New Yorkers, step outside” And to mark the occasion, the clothing and footwear brand decided to create a green space for the city: Customers are greeted by the sight of 2,000 live plants and trees in this temporary venue.

This garden has been designed to create the feeling of being in the New England countryside, where the brand was born  All these plants will be donated to the City of New York and be replanted when the pop-up store closes.  In store, customers are able to explore the new Timberland footwear range and all its winter coats. 


This event space is used to underline the brand's message and to present a new range of products during the peak shopping season. It also means that Timberland is not obliged to commit to a long term lease.  

A rite of passage for pure players 

The pop-up store is also a way for online traders to showcase their products and to have direct contact with their customers. 


Brooklinen is a start-up selling high-end household linen. The site opened its first pop-up store on 9th November in Soho, during the holiday season. Founded in 2014, Brooklinen recently generated sales of 100 million dollars after raising 10 million dollars from a funding round.  Customers can come to the pop-up store to purchase products or look at them and buy them later on line. The 200 square metre pop-up store opened its doors on Spring Street in Soho and will stay open until February 2019. 



The furniture company Floyd opened its pop-up store in a New York apartment. What could be better than seeing and touching furniture or buying products arranged in a real living space? This concept is similar to that developed by The Line: a genuine loft, which is used to sell products displayed in a real setting.  Floyd has also launched a website to celebrate the event.  


New businesses are being established 


It’s not enough to simply want to open a pop-up store, you need to find a location. New business ideas are often launched using the pop-up store concept.  A French ex-Wall Street banker came up with the idea of launching Pop-Up Immo in 2013. Its aim is to help brands find short-term space for rent. In effect, real estate agents were not interested in this sector, which is less profitable than the market for long-term leases.  A few years later, Pop-Up Immo merged with its American competitor Storefront to become the worldwide leader in pop-up store rental. 

The concept is simple: rent a temporary space like you would rent a hotel room or an apartment on AirBnB. Storefront earns a fixed commission of 20%.  The market was estimated to be worth 80 billion dollars in 2017 and Storefront currently employs 100 staff, with 100,000 users and 10,000 available locations on three continents.  


The pop-up store has a great future as it offers many advantages.  For example, it allows a new revenue stream to be tested: a pure player can launch itself with a pop-up store, to add revenue to its online business and engage its customers offline.  What’s more, a pop-up store creates a feeling of urgency: the products on display are only available to buy for a short period of time. It also offers a place for educating new customers. An experience of a product can often turn a potential customer into a regular customer. 

Ultimately, because of their temporary nature, brands are able to take risks, to surprise and to increase their visibility.