Will pop-up only malls catch on?
Whether at big events or as limited-time, seasonal attractions, retail pop-up stores have grown in popularity as other more traditional brick-and-mortar retail forms have struggled. Now in Detroit, a local accelerator (TechTown Detroit) and a community development group (Midtown Detroit Inc.) have launched a pop-up only retail environment aimed at helping mom-and-pop retailers find a broader audience while they figure out the ropes of physical retail.
The retail space, called Cass Collective, currently features six pop-up retail stores, according to an article on Model D Media. The retailers include an olive oil shop, a jewelry store and clothing boutiques, including a men’s apparel brand called Bleu Boutique featured in the article. Before getting a retail presence at Cass Collective, Bleu Boutique had been largely e-tail only outside of pop-up events and fashion shows. The vision for the space is to rotate out each retailer every three months to a year.
The appeal of a “pop-up mall” with a frequently-refreshing lineup of stores seems not unlike a farmer’s market, without any seasonal limitations and with a potentially more varied retailer mix.
Beyond giving startups a semi-permanent foot in the door of brick-and-mortar retail, the advent of multi-retailer pop-up spaces could keep the pop-up model functioning. Some have expressed concerns that mall landlords, for instance, will stop playing ball with pop-ups in favor of longer-term leases.
Outfits like Cass Collective could also keep things affordable in an area that may become as price-prohibitive for entrants as traditional brick-and-mortar. As pop-ups have grown more popular, pop-up rent has increased. For example, the 2015 rent for pop-up locations in the High Street fashion district in the U.K. was as expensive as traditional brick-and-mortar rents.
While Cass Collective appeals strictly to local mom-and-pops, the retail model has grown popular across the board. Amazon.com, for instance, began opening up pop-ups in malls nationwide last year to let customers try and buy their connected devices like the Echo. Even luxury brands like Nordstrom have been launching pop-ups at big-name cultural events like South By Southwest and Coachella Music Festival.
- The newest pop-up space in Midtown helps entrepreneurs test their businesses, together – Model D Media
- Will pop-up fever withstand a rent hike? – RetailWire
- Amazon to roll out pop-ups nationwide – RetailWire
- Can pop-ups wake up mall traffic? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think pop-up only malls like Cass Collective will be able to draw enough traffic to remain sustainable in the long term? Will Cass Collective allow small retailers to figure out brick-and-mortar and omnichannel as intended?