Street cred: SA pioneers pop-up charity
POP- UP SHOPS and, more recently, pop-up bars have become all the rage. From trendy fashion brands to gourmet coffee and craft beer, we have become accustomed to seeing entrepreneurial retailers making the most of short-term or temporary sales spaces – ‘popping up’ on a Saturday evening and then disappearing by Monday. Now, South Africa boasts the title of having conceptualised and popularised the world’s first pop-up charity store.
Kayli Vee Levitan, a copywriter at advertising agency M& C Saatchi Abel, together with her colleague, art director Maximilian Pazak, created the Street Store – which they describe as the world’s first rent-free, premisesfree, free ‘pop-up clothing store’ for the homeless, which relies purely on public donations. The Street Store is characterised by its cheerful posters displayed on the pavement, which are cleverly designed to work as clothes hangers. Through social media campaigns and by word of mouth, people in the area are encouraged to bring their unwanted clothes and disadvantaged community members are invited to browse and take what they want. ‘OPEN SOURCE’ PHILOSOPHY Since its first appearance in January on Napier Street in Cape Town, the Street Store has gone global: with community members stepping up to host their own Street Stores in Brazil, Canada, Belgium and the US (in addition to appearing in Stellenbosch, Johannesburg and Pretoria). Co-founders Vee Levitan and Pazak were determined to make it an ‘open source’ project – enabling anyone to replicate the concept by going online to download the posters and follow a step-by-step guide.
“We’re happy to answer any questions and to make it as simple as possible for anyone to get going,” explains Vee Levitan. “Once each store is organised, we make an official event for them on the Street Store webpage, so that everyone can see each store as it happens.”
In the spirit of true entrepreneurship, the Street Store runs a lean operation – with the only hard cost involved being the printing of the posters (it costs roughly R1 500-R4 000, depending on the printer and the number of posters). Vee Levitan says that they were initially operating on a R5 000 budget (from M&C Saatchi Abel) from which the pair was able to host three Street Stores of their own. “In March, we calculated that we had generated R27m in public relations value off the R5 000 – a figure that shocked us and our client, The Haven Night Shelter,” she adds.
The Street Store co-founders have received kudos from their industry peers, winning a Bronze Cannes Lion for the effective use of media, as well as a Gold Cannes Lion for design. “Every day we get new requests to host Street Stores and new people telling us about stores they have begun planning… the public have been amazing,” adds Vee Levitan.