Just the other day I was chatting with a friend of mine about the slow emergence of pop up shops (pop up retail in the UK) here in Atlanta. The only one that really stood out in my mind was the monthly installment of Bodega at Studio 900 which is now on hiatus. There’s other random attempts, but non of them have really given off that panache that makes the experience unique. Meanwhile, our east, west and euro coast contemporaries partake in these events on the regular. Wait a sec… before we get carried away, lets chop it up a bit regarding the history of pop up shops for those who’d like to do the knowledge.
I first got hip to the term “pop up shop” in 2004-2005 via Atlanta’s own Karl Injex, after He put me on to a website called govacant. Now, the only thing on the website was a picture of what appeared to be an empty bodega with the words “Vacant. Stay Tuned.” set in Helvetica on top. So I bookmarked it and dipped. Several weeks later Injex hits me up and tells me to check the site again. This time The site was laden with the same bodega, the Puma sportswear logo. Underneath the logo read “VACANT POPUP”, with a date and address. You can figure out the rest.
The original concept was based on Japanese consumer culture and it’s devotion to rare and limited edition products. Initially, at a moments notice, customers would arrive at a clandestine location that housed a particular brand or product. Once the products were sold out, usually within a matter of hours, the store would be closed until the owner received more product and was able reopen the store again. After the first few runs the concept took shape, then evolved and took flight and landed in the mouth of corporate America.
So who came up with this grand scheme of grind x spontaneous hustlenomics? The actual pioneers of pop up retail are a small and elusive crew called GoVacant. Since spitting out the pop up baby, they’re still innovating retail ideology. And this time around they’re slapping patents on suckers. Watch for their latest manuevers, a flexible concept for airports and hotels, planeshop™ and hotelshop™. This concept brings rotating retail to a solid location, leaving brands to rotate within a specific airport or hotel. The end result is a totally new shopping experience every time you travel.
BMW Mini China x Vacant/ Mini Cooper promotion on the streets of Shanghai. The car featured a guerrilla pop up store inside the Mini with select limited goods, and a pair of sneakers to the winner of a 1/10th scale race a the custom track. Photo © Vacant
Official Tron Legacy Pop Up Store in Los Angeles / Winter 2010