Pop-up shops seem to be going mainstream this year. A Time.com story, Why Pop-Up Shops Are Hot, looks at this new retail business model.

While pop-ups have had a dubious reputation in the past, of being fly-by-night outfits, they have recently been gaining respectability. The main indoor retail mall here in Eugene, Oregon has had kiosks for several years, modeled after NYC push-carts, positioned down the center of the main walkways. Some of those businesses, such as mobile phone sales, earrings, and sunglasses shops, have been in business a long time, month in and month out. Others have been seasonal, e.g., holiday decorations, and calendars, sprouting in October or November, disappearing in January, and returning again a year later.

This year some big-name retailers are experimenting with pop-up locations. Toys “R” Us, American Eagle, The Gap, and J.C. Penney have been taking advantage of the numerous empty retail storefronts to test product lines, or new target markets, or to maximize exposure for seasonal selling. Shop owners are realizing that even a short-term rent is preferable to no rent at all.

So, perhaps, a pop-up shop might be just the ticket for you to start your new venture, requiring less startup capital, no long-term leases, in potentially high-traffic locations. However, don’t think that a short-term, quick start eliminates your need to plan. Planning your cash needs up front and watching your monthly cash flow is still important.

Steve Lange
Palo Alto Software