Emily Ritche on the rise of the pop-up;

The Australian - The Deal - - News - EMILY RITCHIE

OVER the past few years, pop-up stores, cafes, bars and dis­play suites have been com­ing and go­ing in in­creas­ing num­bers in count­less places across the globe.

It’s a trend that is see­ing more and more busi­nesses em­brace the fast-paced re­tail and property sec­tors through ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with more cre­ative ap­proaches.

One com­pany that spe­cialises in this short-term ac­ti­va­tion of space is Mel­bourne's Space Agency.

Bec McHenry (pic­tured), the 27-year-old chief ex­ec­u­tive, says the evo­lu­tion of her busi­ness is sim­i­lar to the essence of pop-up – three years ago she saw a flyer, dis­cov­ered an empty space in the mar­ket and de­cided to fill it.

She is also adamant that, de­spite the tem­po­rary na­ture of the prod­uct, pop-up is far from a pass­ing trend. It is quickly be­com­ing one of the most pop­u­lar short-term av­enues through which busi­nesses can an­a­lyse cer­tain the­o­ries and mar­kets within the scope of their long-term goals. As she puts it: “Al­though pop-up is a rel­a­tively new in­dus­try, what we do is definitely a trade, not a trend.”

In the three years since it be­gan, the Space Agency has evolved to fo­cus on “space ac­ti­va­tion”. The com­pany mainly works with property de­vel­op­ers, to “help them cre­ate au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ences of the life­style that pa­trons can ex­pect from new devel­op­ments and new precincts”, says McHenry.

It has sup­ported Lend Lease’s Ur­ban Re­newal project, which in­cudes sub­stan­tial new devel­op­ments at Mel­bourne’s Vic­to­ria Har­bour, Sydney’s Baranga­roo and Brisbane Show­ground, where it was vi­tal to sim­u­late the liv­ing ar­eas and com­mu­nity precincts.

“You can’t just point to a plan any more and say, ‘See, this is what it’s go­ing to be.’ In­stead you have to demon­strate for and phys­i­cally en­gage with peo­ple in the short term,” McHenry says.

Pop-up is also a tem­po­rary tool that busi­nesses can use to cre­ate sim­pler av­enues for wider brand recog­ni­tion and cus­tomer en­gage­ment over time.

She says: “Through our work we’re see­ing an in­ter­est­ing trend that we’ve coined ‘cool by as­so­ci­a­tion’, which means that brands and busi­nesses are be­ing very clever about how they as­so­ciate with oth­ers and the ex­pe­ri­ences to which they at­tach them­selves”.

McHenry is op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture: “Al­though the bar does need to be lifted, it’s clear that peo­ple sim­ply don’t en­gage with re­tail in the same way any­more and that’s ex­cit­ing”.

Al­though pop-up is a rel­a­tively new in­dus­try, what we do is definitely a trade, not a trend

Bec McHenry

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