Do you own a start-up home business? Are you looking to expand by leaving the interior of your house and giving retail a try, without a huge commitment?
Well, we tried it and want to share!
Seven Oaks Lavender Farm just recently ran a successful pop-up in Warrenton, Virginia. What is a pop-up you ask? The official dictionary definition describes it as “a store or other business that opens quickly in a temporary location and is intended to operate for only a short period of time.” Basically – you prep, you sell, you leave, that's it.
For those of you thinking of giving it a try or are wondering how much preparation goes into a successful pop-up, we’ve put together a collection of tips and how-to’s. Be sure to keep these things in mind when diving into the pop-up process (and remember, the prep work is the most time-consuming!)
Before- The Prep Work
1. Work backwards. Think about your preferred outcome of the pop-up and what you need to decide on in order to meet your expectations. How long do you want this event to last (a month, a week, or one-day event)? What do you want to sell and when you want to sell it? Be strategic in date and time of year, while keeping other nearby events in mind. Take advantage of holidays and any other miscellaneous calendar days that could drive more sales (Ex. We took advantage of “Small Business Saturday”).
2. Find an appropriate space. Look for empty storefronts and large retail spaces nearby. Many places like this are up for rent, or at least have a portion of space available (possibility of sectioning off a corner). One key to making a profit from the event is getting the space for as inexpensively as possible....free is even better!
3. Approach Landlord. Once finding an appropriate spot, approach the owner or landlord of the space to discuss the pop-up. Ask if they are open to the idea, what they will charge in rent, what the regulations are for using the space, etc. Have a price point in mind before going into the conversation.
4. It’s a Deal! Depending on the landlord, a space can be rented by something as simple as a handshake, or by a lengthier process of signing a lease and paying a security deposit (for blemishes, broken items, etc). You and any other vendors may need to provide proof of insurance to owner to safely cover what you are selling inside their space.
5. Pre-plan the space. Think about placement. Buy decorations, get crafty. Don’t wait until the last minute to think about décor. Even something as simple as a few balloons and a sign outside or seasonal eye-catching items in the storefront can make a huge difference in creating a space that has a professional and thought-out appearance. You want the space to be attractive and inviting to your customers while showcasing your products in their best light.
6. Vendors. Decide if you want to fly solo or invite other businesses. Inviting other vendors is harder, but it usually attracts a wider audience. How to find others? Use the resources available to you - ask friends with their own businesses, use word of mouth, ask your area’s economic development authority for names of other local small businesses, research craft fairs and what vendors participate and call them, use buy fresh buy local guides, visit farmers markets - just to name a few. You want to choose vendors that enhance and coincide with your business without overlapping too much in product.
7. Think About Time and Energy. If you don’t have a lot of time and energy to put into the pop-up, go small and just sell your products. Having more vendors dramatically increases the amount of work you will have to do because the amount of organizing, contacting and working out details with each individual vendor.
8. Payment. When vendors agree to participate, ask them to pay their share of the rent up front....this will keep them from cancelling at the last minute and leaving you to pay their portion of the rent.
9. Keep staffing in mind. You may want help with set up and take down, but a key to getting sales is personally being there to talk to your customers. It provides them with a face to put with the name of your business, and you are the best person to show off your passion for your products.
10. Familiarize Yourself. Walk around to other shops on the street and talk to them about what you are doing. Ask if they’d be open to displaying any flyers or posters you make for the event in their storefront. If you are a caffeine-lover or like to go out to lunch, be sure you know in advance where the closest coffee shops and lunch shops are in order to make quick trips during lulls in crowds.
11. Advertise. Use social media. Some easy ways to do this are using Facebook ads and making a Facebook event page, offering a sale only available at the pop-up, and taking advantage of specials. Call your local paper and see if they will print an article or ad and put one on Craigslist as well. Be sure to tell all other vendors to do heavy social media advertising too so that your audience size doubles with each participating vendor.
12. Branding. Create a name for your event and specific artwork for posters that include date/time/address/vendors. It could also include a brief description of what a pop-up is and what products your pop-up is highlighting.
13. Product Strategy. Be strategic in selecting product to sell. If you are not able to leave supplies overnight for multiple-day events, be sure you choose products that are lightweight, portable and easy to set up and take down.
14. Payment. Decide what payment methods you will be offering to customers and be sure this is advertised. It helps to know where the closest ATM is in the event someone needs more cash in order to buy a product.
15. Design. Decide if you want to create some special attraction outside the store announcing the pop-up (balloons, sandwich board, etc.). Buy the day before so that you are not rushing around minutes before opening.
During- The Day Of
16. Early Bird. If you are the one in charge of the pop-up, get there at least an hour early on the start of the first day. Setting up always takes longer than you think, and some of the other vendors may have questions as they arrive.
17. Helpers. Make sure you have asked for help in advance if you have tables that are too heavy to carry alone or you have a large amount of product that needs to be unloaded. It’s best to be overly prepared with a few extra hands.
18. Remember the Extras. Remember to bring supplies like tape, paper towels, paper and pen, Kleenex, and cleaning supplies. You never know when you are going to need these items.
After- The Take Down
19. Return of the Helpers. If you had helpers for set-up, be sure to ask if they would also come back for take-down. At the end of the pop-up you will want everything to be packed away as quickly and efficiently as possible, and it is always good to have an extra set of hands.
20. Clean Up. Make sure you leave the space looking better than it was when you got it. Use the cleaning supplies you brought on the first day and be sure to sweep, mop, and run a wet towel over scuff-marks on the floor and walls.
We hope these were helpful tips! Be sure to comment or get in touch with us if you have any other questions regarding how to pop-up!