top of page


13 unique pop-up shop ideas to bring in new business

pop-up shop ideas

The face of retail is always changing. While eCommerce has revolutionized and digitized the way people shop, there is still something to be said about experiencing a product in person. In fact, a recent study revealed that more than half of consumers still prefer shopping in-store.

Building an online store is essential for retailers large and small, but direct-to-consumer brands are discovering there’s an offline complement that can be just as convenient, all while offering a dash of immersive fun that’s unique to face-to-face shopping.

Pop-up shops are pocket-sized relatives to average big-box retailers—and that’s their advantage. The format is nimble and inexpensive enough to “pop up” wherever your audience already gathers, delivering ultimate convenience along with novel experiences that generate sales and brand buzz. Keep reading for several business ideas to start in this realm, plus tips for getting started.

What is a pop-up shop?

A pop-up shop is a retail space set up for a specific purpose with a limited duration. Usually located in an area with high foot traffic, pop-up shops can take the form of a stall at an outdoor market or festival, a temporary tenancy in a traditional storefront or even a mobile unit operating out of a truck.

Online-only retailers, entrepreneurs who want to start a business and traditional brands alike have used pop-up shops to give customers the opportunity to interact with their products in novel ways. Although their presence can be fleeting, pop-up shops are big business—Ibisworld estimated that U.S. pop-up shops brought in $14.5 billion in revenue last year alone.

13 pop-up shop ideas

01. New product launch pop-up

The pop-up format is ideal for spotlighting a new product release, giving you the opportunity to showcase the full range of SKU options and models. Large-format photos or looping videos can show off the product in context and communicate your brand’s overall vibe.

Give shoppers the opportunity to try out or try on the product, and host demonstrations or how-tos that further showcase features and benefits. Consider a special offer to commemorate the launch, whether a discount on accessories or a coupon for future purchase.

02. Limited-time exclusive pop-up

Create excitement and interest by promoting items that are only available at the pop-up location. These exclusives can be collaborations with creators known to your audience or seasonal specials.

You can also offer a limited-time opportunity to customize or personalize products at the pop-up event by offering DIY design tools or embroidery services on site. To create a sense of urgency, use social media to communicate that the pop-up exclusives will only be available for a limited time.

03. Event or festival-based pop-up

Tap your existing customer base to learn about the fairs, festivals, music performances or games where they’re likely to congregate. If you can stage a pop-up in connection with one of these events, you’ll have a built-in audience of like-minded consumers.

Consider selling unique merchandise that ties into the event to give attendees extra incentive to buy on the spot. In addition to acquiring customers and generating sales, you’ll earn credibility with your target audience for being in the know about which events matter to them.

04. Holiday pop-up

For many U.S. retailers, the end-of-year holiday season is the year’s peak sales period, so make the most of it with a pop-up shop featuring gift items for different recipients and at different price points. Offer on-site gift wrap and shipping services to maximize convenience, or consider scheduling special events that put the focus on holiday fun; a gourmet food seller may want to host a cookie decorating session, for example, while a beauty retailer may want to provide holiday party glow-up tips.

If your peak sales period is at another time of year, make the most of it with a pop-up focused on that occasion, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or back-to-school season.

05. Instagrammable pop-up

To generate social media buzz, create a visually appealing environment that begs to be photographed and shared. Selfie stations, backdrops in bright colors or bold patterns, stylish furnishings and unusual lighting all create an atmosphere that invites photo experimentation.

Games, themed food and drink, or music add to the immersive experience and encourage social media creators to capture the scene.

06. Themed pop-up

Another way to curate offerings in your pop-up shop is to pick a theme relevant to your audience and design an experience to match. The theme could be a particular product category, a popular designer or a connection to the specific location of your temporary shop—such as offering beach towels and flip-flops at a coastal spot.

07. Mobile pop-up

Retrofit a van, truck, trailer or bus to create a pop-up shop on wheels. A mobile pop-up can move wherever your customers go, and a bold exterior paint job can advertise your brand while in transit. See Los Angeles-based Happy Ice for example; every Monday, they post their pop-up locations around LA.

Depending on local rules and regulations, opening for business may be as simple as pulling up to the curb and putting the vehicle in park, or you may want to secure space at craft fairs or farmers’ markets to ensure you have the foot traffic to make the journey worthwhile.

08. Pop-up vending machines

If your products are small enough, consider setting up an automated dispenser in a high-traffic area. There’s no need to limit your offerings to items that sell for pocket change; modern vending machines interface with credit cards and mobile wallets to make payments a snap.

If stocking physical products on-site isn’t feasible, consider using QR codes that link to shoppable augmented-reality experiences, or display a series of posters with scan-to-buy options.

09. Local celebrity pop-up

Personalities with their own followings can help draw traffic. Consider hosting a pop-up shop event with a relevant local expert, athlete, artisan or author and encourage them to spread the word; their appearances may spur local media coverage, giving your brand an additional boost.

Interactive experiences such as classes or style consultations can be especially buzz-worthy, as they give attendees the opportunity to rub shoulders with the featured talent on a deeper level than a meet-and-greet photo op.

10. Charitable pop-up

Aligning your brand with a cause isn’t just an act of charity; it’s good for business, too. According to Edelman, more than six in 10 consumers say they buy or advocate for brands that align with their beliefs.

To spotlight charitable efforts, you can donate a percentage of pop-up sales to a cause, collect donations on behalf of a local organization or host speakers tackling issues that are important to your audience.

11. Local business collab pop-up

Approach existing stores whose customers could be interested in your products to see if they’d be willing to collaborate on business ideas like a store-within-a-store.

Thanks to the potential for co-promotion, the venture has benefits for both parties. Your customers get to know their store, while shoppers in their aisles encounter your brand. Plus, any special offers or events you showcase help drive traffic to their location.

12. Virtual pop-up

If your audience has a preferred online hangout, consider creating the equivalent of a pop-up experience in the digital environment. You can live-stream on social media, host a sponsored space on a gaming platform, collaborate with an entertainer to hold an invite-only streaming event or even interact with avatar customers in virtual reality.

Anchor this eCommerce business idea with a purpose-built website or a dedicated section of your online store so that pop-up shop visitors have a hub for placing orders and accessing information about your brand.

13. Resale and reuse pop-up

Resale is all the rage. The number of brands launching resale initiatives jumped 244% from 2021 to 2022, according to ThredUp, as companies seek ways to reduce waste and conserve resources.

Consider hosting a limited-time pop-up shop to sell vintage clothing or offer trade-in credit for used goods. You can also offer repair and refurbishment services and host workshops for creative upcycling projects.

What are the benefits of a pop-up for small businesses?

Creative pop-up shops may be fun for shoppers, but their potential contribution to the bottom line is anything but trivial. Pop-up shops deliver concrete business benefits, allowing you to:

  • Diversify your sales channels: If you’ve been selling exclusively online or through retail partners, adding a physical location for direct sales, even temporarily, can introduce your brand to new customers who might not use those other channels. In addition, setting up in-person transactions gives you more flexibility in the future if digital sales flag. To get up and running quickly, Wix users can take advantage of the Wix Point of Sale (POS) system to seamlessly accept in-person payments using the Wix Payments online processor. Wix POS hardware supports both in-store and mobile shopping.

Wix POS landing page

  • Build brand awareness: By positioning a store wherever your audience is congregating, you can boost brand visibility and highlight your offerings to new potential customers. Additionally, you can score extra points for credibility as an in-the-know brand if your pop-up is connected to a niche event or trending celebrity, or is located in an up and coming neighborhood.

  • Meet customers face to face: While shopping online is convenient, there’s nothing like interacting with real people. Connecting a face with a brand name—especially if you as the owner can be on hand—can cement stronger customer relationships and encourage loyalty. Likewise, knowledgeable pop-up shop personnel can convince shoppers that your brand is the go-to authority for your niche products.

  • Gather feedback in real time: If you’re rolling out a new product line or brand messaging, there’s no better way to test your offerings than with a live audience. Not only can you observe how shoppers interact with your goods as they consider a purchase, but you can explicitly ask for feedback through an on-the-spot survey or poll. Incentivize participation with a discount on a future purchase, or enter participants in a drawing for a gift card.

  • Go in-depth with workshops and demos: A pop-up shop is a perfect opportunity to showcase the features and benefits of your products. Let visitors test and try them, and offer demonstrations that put the products through their paces. If you sell handmade goods online, host demonstrations with artisan makers that give visitors a tactile experience of the artistry that goes into your products. For example, Chappelle & Co., a shop offering handmade décor items, hosts candle-making workshops. These in-depth encounters spotlight the expertise behind your brand and establish your credibility.

Chapelle & Co. pop-up candle-making workshop email

  • Test new locations: Whether you’re considering expansion of your existing store network or want to take the plunge for the first time, a pop-up shop is a relatively inexpensive way to go about it before committing to a larger space and a long-term lease. You can test whether a particular neighborhood or mall is right for you, gauge the amount of foot traffic and hone in on the best hours of operation, as well as curate the assortment of inventory that matches the local clientele.

  • Offer quick pickups: In addition to offering a fun shopping experience, a pop-up location can serve as an order fulfillment depot for local customers who buy items online. This option can be particularly useful during the final days of the winter holiday season. In 2022, a quarter of all online Black Friday orders were picked up in-store, according to research from PYMNTS. Overall, store pickup usage grew 37% from 2021 to 2022.

6 steps to creating a successful pop-up shop

With so many unique business ideas to try and so many good reasons to open a pop-up shop, picking a single starting point can be a challenge. Before diving into the specifics of fun designs and themed tie-ins, define and focus your business case, and then follow through with a comprehensive marketing plan. To maximize your chances of success, don’t overlook these essential steps.

01. Set goals

Your pop-up shop’s offerings and operations will differ according to your goals, so think through what you hope to achieve before designing the experience.

If you aim to raise general brand awareness, for example, you may curate a selection of top sellers to feature in addition to limited-time exclusives. But if you’re launching a product line with a sales target in mind, you may stock a wide variety of SKUs of just those few items, schedule a lineup of demos and hand out discount coupons to visitors who fill out a feedback survey.

You may also have a goal of collaborating with a certain business or company in exchange for retail space or cross-promotion. For example, Washington, D.C.-based The Spice Suite offers shared pop-up space at no cost for Black-owned businesses selling unique or handmade items (schedule permitting).

Ready to create a website for your business? Get started with Wix today.

02. Vet your location carefully

Pop-up shops are designed to bring your brand to where your audience is gathering, so carefully consider where to locate. If you’re planning a tie-in to a festival, market or other event, study the available vendor spots and pick a location that’s central, or at least easy to find.

If you’re establishing a foothold in a particular neighborhood or shopping district, study foot traffic patterns and demographics of surrounding residential areas. Selling large furnishings in a dense urban area will require offering a delivery service, whereas in a suburban mall, some buyers may opt to load items immediately into their trucks or SUVs.

Once you zero in on a venue or building, do your research. Ask other tenants or vendors about their experiences, and get to know the organizer or landlord. Carefully review your lease and/or contract, preferably with guidance from an attorney, so you understand all your obligations and costs. Check local rules and regulations that may affect your operation, and obtain any necessary permits.

03. Promote early and often

Once you have your location and dates set, begin building a promotional calendar. Give current customers and social media followers a sneak peek of the pop-up shop in progress and tease offerings. Participate in event co-promotion with venue hosts, such as using designated hashtags for large event or festival tie-ins, and ask influencers and guest celebrities to promote scheduled appearances through their own channels. Direct mail can have an impact if your goal is to reach local neighborhood residents.

After opening day, use pop-up shop activities as fodder for social media content, and invite visitors to tag their selfies and stories to help spread the word. Gather email or cell phone contact information from visitors and send pop-up-specific messages previewing upcoming activities or new product offerings. Wix users can utilize the platform’s built-in marketing tools, like Instagram integration or free email marketing, to manage everything from one place.

To close out the calendar, consider special promotions or discounts for the final days of the pop-up shop, and begin promoting future locations.

04. Adapt your processes for pop-up ops

In addition to setting up a point-of-sale system, consider other modifications you may need to accommodate face-to-face purchasing. You may need to configure space for dressing rooms or order signage, packaging or product displays.

With limited space available, map out where extra inventory will be stored. And if you’re offering home delivery directly from the pop-up location, establish and test your fulfillment options.

05. Train staff appropriately

Pop-up shop personnel should be well-versed in the selection of products on offer, and they should be prepared to assist with special tasks such as registering event participants and setting up orders for home delivery. In addition, they should be knowledgeable about the store’s purpose, hours and dates of operation, theme and any special upcoming events or attractions.

06. Encourage online engagement

While your pop-up location provides an immersive physical experience, it should be completely integrated with your existing omnichannel selling capabilities. Use your online store as a comprehensive back-end resource, with in-depth product information and reviews, event forms and calendars, additional inventory and access to your entire product assortment.

Promote your eCommerce site with pop-up store signage, and encourage staff to reference the site during interactions with visitors. To build a lasting connection, encourage visitors to follow your brand on social media and sign up to receive email or text message promotion

Was this article helpful?

bottom of page