Sears Pops Up in Manhattan

Discussion
Dec 15, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Temporary or pop-up stores are becoming increasingly popular as a way to create buzz around a retail brand. Now Sears is joining Apple, Target and others that have used this tactic to make headlines and ultimately drive sales.


According to a Bloomberg News report, the pop-up store will be located in Times Square in Manhattan at the studio where “Good Morning America” is shot. The store will be open between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. from December 17 to 21.


Sears does not have a permanent store location in Manhattan. It has six stores in other boroughs of New York, including two each in Brooklyn and Queens.


The pop-up location will feature popular Sears’ brands, such as Kenmore, Craftsman and Lands’ End. Consumers will be able to order items in the store and have them shipped before Christmas. To sweeten the deal, Sears is running a special sale with up to 50 percent off on selected goods between Dec. 16 and 24. 


Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on pop-up stores as a publicity and marketing tactic? Is there set of Best Practices for setting up and creating
buzz for these types of locations?

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Sears Pops Up in Manhattan"


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Al McClain
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Al McClain
15 years 2 months ago

When you factor in all the expenses with pop up stores, I’m sure it’s very rare that any of them make money. But, that’s not the point, “buzz” is the point. For Sears, the buzz has been mostly bad the past few years. This could be one piece of the puzzle in turning their image around. They should have fun with it, do some quirky things that draw even more attention, give away stuff, and get the buzz going in a positive direction. Terrific idea.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 2 months ago
So Sears has set up a catalog store in center of Manhattan’s tourist district. Pretty sharp idea. Sounds like a walk-through, interactive billboard for the chain, or a World’s Fair exhibit. It may not generate profits on its own, but since it is located right under the nose of the national, financial and trade media, the visibility could be priceless. The pop-up idea has plenty of applicability during periods of high consumption. Extra kiosks in malls come to mind. Here in Tucson, there are tamale vendors that position themselves at certain strip shopping centers in the pre-holiday season. I recall a temporarily vacant corner lot on E. 42nd Street in Manhattan that years ago was occupied by a mini-bazaar of artists and craftspeople one holiday season. These merchants all have one thing in common. They break us out of our routine by appearing in front of us in the places we are already going. Sears has managed to create a little bit of excitement this year by dislodging the media out of its routine too.… Read more »
Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 2 months ago
Here are some criteria I think might be common across “successful” pop-up stores. First, let’s define “successful” as generating a certain number of “hits.” Conceptualize the pop-up store as a web site, and see that even if no one buys, just being there becomes a brand impression. So “success” is probably an equation including sales, gross margin, and advertising impact. Back to my criteria: 1. Relative scarcity or accessibility of product. The product may not actually be scarce, just scarce or hard to get to for the consumer near the pop-up location. Example: Best Buy kiosks don’t really have scarce products. But in the areas they are found, Best Buy does not appear to have a significant store presence. Hence a sense of “hard to come by” for the products found there. Same holds true for Apple. 2. Either impulse focus, or ease of delivery capability. The pop-up store generally has “buy and carry” stuff, or has operationally made it easy to transport (home delivery, later pick up, delivery to office, free shipping, etc). 3.… Read more »
Doug Fleener
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Of course, six months after they announce the 400 temporary stores, they’ll have to say they won’t do them since the early results are falling short.

There was an interesting two-part article by sports columnist Bob Ryan in The Boston Globe this week about the relevance today of the 16-time world champion Boston Celtics, and if the franchise that was once synonymous with greatness can ever return to the glory days. One of the team’s owners, Wayne Grousbeck, said, ‘We (the Celtics) can’t ask for that buzz, we have to earn it.” That line rattled around my head all day.

Whether you approve of them or not, you have to admit the racy Victoria Secret’s windows create a buzz. The temporary Target store, one of the first to do it, created a buzz. Somehow being the fourth or fifth store to do it just doesn’t earn a buzz. I don’t see it helping their cause much.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

This is just Sears’ way of making headlines to distract from their declining sales base and ongoing problems. Maybe next they will announce they are building 400 of these too.

Kai Clarke
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Location, location, location! Part of good retailing is having stores located where consumers need them most. Sears is doing this, and pushing their brand in one of the most active spaces in NYC. Add to this the power and ease of internet shopping and you have a recipe for success. This is great and an indicator of things to come. We will soon see specialized stores in any location where there are many people but it is difficult to build a traditional store. And why not? If customers want this, they will support it. If not, it will be withdrawn and the retailers will spend their money elsewhere.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 2 months ago
What a great concept. I think this would be a great opportunity for a supermarket retailer. If you really believe (as I do) that supermarket shopping becomes a “habit” and that the way to lure customers away from a competitor is to get them to “break the habit,” then a pop-up store seems like a great opportunity. The thirsty retailer hoping to quench it with a little business from a competitor could set up a mini store in the competitor’s neighborhood with a convenience store type product line, which offers incentives to visit the big store down the road. Actually, this might even turn into a permanent opportunity as the convenience outlet becomes a quick stop for the competitor’s customers who don’t want to walk through the big store for a quart of milk. This kind of takes the “store within a store” idea to an extreme and places it in the competitor’s neighborhood. It also makes the idea of portable POS pretty neat as the cash management and technical support would come from the… Read more »
Santiago Vega
Guest
Santiago Vega
15 years 2 months ago

Temporary pop-up stores, as long as they’re relevant for the customers of a specific location or in this case for a specific season, are effective at generating buzz and traffic. I can’t imagine that Sears will make a profit having the store operating only for a week and offering deep discounts, but they’re definitely going to get people in their stores and on their websites (sears.com; landsend.con, kenmore.com, etc….) which signals an effort to elevate their proprietary brands’ profiles and try to re-engage customers with what Sears has to offer. I applaud the effort.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Whenever a retailer or manufacturer opens a pop-up store or even a permanent location in Manhattan, I always question whether it’s for PR value or whether it’s for profit. Sometimes the PR is to raise visibility for Wall Street analysts, sometimes it’s to raise visibility for wholesale channels to build a brand, and sometimes the store actually makes money. Many prestige international brands have permanent stores on Madison and Fifth Avenue that could not possibly make money, but they want a Manhattan presence to enhance brand positioning. Manhattan is a media capital, so the PR value in “free advertising” may be worthwhile. And Sears’ cost may have been part of a trade for advertising time bought on the network.

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