Chi­tra Bala­sub­ra­ma­niam pro­files the pop-up shop phe­nom­e­non.

Apparel - - Feature -

On­line shop­ping is com­fort­able but con­sumers miss the shop­ping spirit; brick-and-mor­tar stores are con­ve­nient but need heavy in­vest­ments and ac­cess­ing them is not easy. A con­ve­nient, mid­dle path which seems to be emerg­ing as the third al­ter­na­tive is the use of pop-ups or tem­po­rary shops to sell mer­chan­dise. This con­cept is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing pop­u­lar in the West and it is com­mon to see them across ma­jor shop­ping des­ti­na­tions.

This new trend might have been there for a long time, but it is re­cently com­ing into vogue and is be­ing viewed se­ri­ously by mar­keters, in­clud­ing on­line sites. In­vesto­pe­dia, the tome for all busi­ness-re­lated terms, de­fines pop-up re­tail


as ‘a re­tail store that is opened tem­po­rar­ily to take ad­van­tage of a trend or a sea­sonal prod­uct’. It fur­ther clar­i­fies that the de­mand for prod­ucts sold in pop-up re­tail is typ­i­cally short-lived. In In­dia, most of these stores are found in the ap­parel, jew­ellery and home dé­cor in­dus­tries.

The web­site www.big­com­merce.com de­scribes pop-ups as, “Pop-up stores have be­come more preva­lent in re­cent years and con­tinue to grow in pop­u­lar­ity. These short-term re­tail en­vi­ron­ments en­able cus­tomers to ex­pe­ri­ence prod­ucts first­hand. E-com­merce mer­chants of­ten use pop-up shops to reach new cus­tomers and test out a phys­i­cal re­tail en­vi­ron­ment.”

Typ­i­cally, for a short du­ra­tion, the pop-up man­ages to bring many niche play­ers un­der one roof. The mar­ket­ing of the event is done by the or­gan­is­ers, thus en­sur­ing foot­falls and vis­i­tor num­bers. It is more pop­u­lar in the fes­tive sea­son and is emerg­ing as an­other lu­cra­tive way to sell prod­ucts.

The web­site www.big­com­merce.com fur­ther adds, “Big cities have more pop-up shops. Los An­ge­les, New York, Lon­don, Stock­holm and Berlin, all have a large pop-up re­tail scene. Brands–large and small–have ex­per­i­mented with tem­po­rary re­tail es­tab­lish­ments, in­clud­ing Ama­zon and Google.”

What is strik­ing about this method of sales is that dot-coms or on­line sites are also ac­tively jump­ing onto the band­wagon. In In­dia, www. jay­pore.com has in­creas­ingly used this mode to sell its ware.


In In­dia, the pop-up, in its avant-garde for­mat, has come into the lime­light just now. The ear­lier avatars in In­dia were called ‘ex­hi­bi­tions’, which were tra­di­tional stalls put up with the help of the Govern­ment or other bod­ies. They typ­i­cally lasted a few weeks and there were foot­falls. Then of course, there were the ubiq­ui­tous Di­wali melas,

Pujo ut­savs and the like. In Delhi, the Christ­mas bazaars or melas or­gan­ised by the var­i­ous em­bassies were a big draw. But the re­cent pop­ups or bazaars which are be­ing held in five-star ho­tels are a big mar­ket­ing event in them­selves. Care­fully cu­rated by the or­gan­is­ers, they bring to the fore lesser known brands and good de­sign­ers from all over the coun­try.

There are sev­eral ways of work­ing with the pop-up model. It can part­ner with a lo­cal gallery or store to host such an event. In In­dia, this has grown in stature with the pres­ence of a num­ber of so­cialites who revel in or­gan­is­ing such

events be­fore the fes­tive sea­son. The sea­son ideally starts be­fore Rak­sha Band­han or Teej and con­tin­ues till Christ­mas. There are sec­ond edi­tions even dur­ing the sum­mers. They are held in halls, five-star ho­tels and ban­quet halls. En­tre­pre­neur Ramola Bachchan or­gan­ises a cou­ple of high-pro­file pop-ups at the Ashoka Ho­tel, Delhi. The FLO - Delhi Chap­ter had or­gan­ised an in­ter­na­tional bazaar in Septem­ber. With a pres­ence of select re­tail­ers from across the coun­try, it man­aged to at­tract plenty of crowd. Kal­pavriksh, an NGO, or­gan­ises its an­nual Teej Bazaar which is a huge hit with the Mar­wari crowd, as it draws very heavy foot­falls. It also has a host of ex­hibitors who only par­tic­i­pate in their bazaar and pre­fer to sell in small ways di­rectly.

Serendip­ity, a haveli-turned-store in the Jaun­pur area of Delhi, hosts its two-day event as ‘Au­tumn Fest’. What adds to the fes­tive spirit is the food and drinks counter with live mu­sic in the evening. The two-day af­fair has its reg­u­lars. There are those show­cas­ing gar­ments, jew­ellery and of course, home dé­cor items. There are sev­eral pop-ups which are hosted for char­i­ta­ble causes, and sev­eral only for busi­ness. Wed­ding Asia, which show­cased lesser known brands for brides, was the first pop-up which or­gan­ised a large-scale event. It then had mul­ti­ple ver­sions across dif­fer­ent towns. In Delhi, Aga Khan Hall is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for those wish­ing to host such events. Given the size of the event, it is pos­si­ble to have sev­eral per­mu­ta­tions and com­bi­na­tions. Sev­eral five-star ho­tels have ban­quet fa­cil­i­ties avail­able for such pop-ups. Booths at craft fairs and farm­ers’ weekly mar­kets are also other op­tions.

The Delhi Crafts Coun­cil or­gan­ises the fes­ti­val ‘Sa­rees of In­dia’, in hon­our of Smt Ka­maladevi Chat­topad­hyay. It show­cases the ex­trav­a­ganza of In­dian saris and brings to­gether some of the best re­vival­ists and de­sign­ers who work with the crafts­men of the coun­try.


The en­tire suc­cess of the model hinges on the abil­ity of the or­gan­is­ers to garner foot­falls. A com­bi­na­tion of di­rect mail­ers, word-of-mouth pub­lic­ity, so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing with event high­lights, hoard­ings, boards and of course ad­ver­tise­ments in lead­ing news­pa­pers with in­serts and fly­ers add to the suc­cess of the event. Also, the name of the organiser, a well-known craftsper­son, so­cialite, fash­ion de­signer or roy­alty and their taste to care­fully cull and cu­rate a num­ber of brands sell­ing exquisitely crafted prod­ucts adds to at­tract­ing foot­falls. Such is the pop­u­lar­ity of pop-ups that Vogue has com­piled a list of the must-visit pop-ups.


What helps sell the pop-up model is the fact that ex­hibitons are cu­rated rather than be­ing put


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