Street cred: SA pi­o­neers pop-up char­ity

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE -

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.

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