Five secrets to pop-up shop success

Karen Allan, owner of Empayah – Glitterati

The age of the pop-up shop is upon us. Not only are they perfect for building brand awareness or testing a new idea, pop-ups are a great platform to trial your online business in a bricks and mortar store.

So, what makes a pop-up shop a smash hit? We’ve gathered practical tips from two Brisbane business owners – Karen Allan of Empayah – Glitterarti and Sandra Ebbott of Mizzie The Kangaroo – who’ve made the leap with the help of the Suburban Shopfront Activation program.

1. Get organised

If this is your first foray into retail, there will be a lot to consider. How will you display your products? What payment methods will you use? Will you need phone or internet?

Karen Allan’s vibrant pop-up shop on James Street in Fortitude Valley is as unique as her jewellery labels Empayah and Glitterati, but her distinct shopfront didn’t come about without meticulous planning.

“Treat your shop like your home,” says Karen. “There are a lot of items like extension cords, lights, cables, bags and blue tac that you need to get started. Before I moved in, I really looked at the space and took photos, measurements and planned as much as I could, so that when I got here all I had to do was set up.”

2. Find your 'hood

Sandra Ebbott, owner of Mizzie The Kangaroo

Realtors are right when they say it’s all about location, location, location. Your chosen neighbourhood needs to fit with your business offering. Consider your target market and aim for a location that attracts a lot of foot traffic. You don’t want your customers getting lost trying to find you.

Sandra Ebbott did her research before settling upon the perfect location to launch Mizzie The Kangaroo’s first pop-up store. “The location needs to make sense to your product and your business,” says Sandra.

“When Council matched us with the space at 160 Racecourse Road in Ascot, it made a lot of sense as a location because we specialise in educational and natural teething toys and there are a lot of young families and grandparents in the area.”

Pro tip: Use our free Brisbane Community Profiles tool to get the latest demographic, social and economic data about each area of Brisbane.

3. Build a buzz

People don’t want to miss a great party, so think of your pop-up shop the same way. Do some pre-pop-up marketing to let your customers know something exciting is happening. Take your social media followers along for the ride through posts, stories and videos too.

“I built it [our opening] up for about two weeks with sneak peeks and teasers on my social media channels before launching the Empayah – Glitterati pop-up,” says Karen.

“People get sick of seeing product photos, they want something different. By creating a story or a fun poll for them to participate in, it builds up to something big.”

Sandra says don’t be discouraged if people aren’t knocking down your door on the first day. “It’s not going to happen overnight. We see every new customer who comes in and gets to experience Mizzie The Kangaroo as a bonus.”

4. Make connections

Selling your products or services may be your goal, but your pop-up store is also a chance to make some meaningful relationships.

Sandra has made it a focus to immerse her brand in the local community. “You become someone’s local shop, so think of who’s living around the corner,” she says.

“Being a children’s educational brand, we have become involved with some of the local day care centres, running competitions. It’s a good way to involve the community and for us to think locally too.”

Be inspired: Read about how Sandra flipped her business model, expanded overseas and launched a flagship store, all during a global pandemic.

5. Be flexible

Karen Allan of Empayah – Glitterarti at her James Street pop-up shop

Remember, a pop-up store is your chance to experiment. Don’t be afraid to change direction or try something new. Just imagine, we wouldn’t have microwave ovens, super glue or play doh if their inventors didn’t think outside the box.

Karen’s advice: don’t see change as a negative, but rather adapting your business to what’s happening. “Because my jewellery is bright and colourful, I decided to make some big pom-poms for the shop’s display,” she says.

“I ended up having so many people ask to buy them that I’ve since started making them to sell. I’ve also had requests for men’s jewellery, so I’m looking into doing that as well. I’m adapting to what my customers are asking for.”

Pop to it

Feeling inspired? If you have a start-up, social enterprise, or home-based business, Council’s Suburban Shopfront Activation program can help match you to the perfect pop-up space. We also help landlords with vacant suburban shop fronts to find suitable temporary tenants.

You can apply for one of our grants to help with set-up costs. Cash incentives are available too for landlords.

Need a little extra support? Our friendly Business Liaison Officers can talk you through the resources and programs that can help start, run or grow your business.

Related links

Date posted:
Last updated:8 September 2020