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4 critical questions to ask about your pop-up store

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, which means it’s a great time to consider new ways to get your business out in the public eye. Namely, pop-up stores!

Most cities host street fairs and events to support local businesses in honor of Small Business Saturday, which occurs the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For 2019, that means it's Nov. 30.  To help you take advantage of the festivities, let’s walk through four essential questions to ask yourself as you create or refine your pop-up store.

What’s the purpose of your pop-up?

  • Reach new customers – Pop-ups are a great way to increase your exposure with the general public. Pick a place or event with a ton of foot traffic, and make sure all your new customers have a way to find your existing store location. Offering coupons on their next purchase is one idea to encourage them to seek you out.

  • Push slow-moving stock – If you have a bunch of dead stock taking up room in your store, host a big one-time sale and get it moving. This is also a great way to quickly sell seasonal products like Christmas or Halloween props.

  • Promote a new line of products – Are you carrying a new brand of clothing? Did you start carrying a whole new product category? Pop-ups can help get the word out.

  • Hype and public relations – Rather than a simple tent at a street fair, some businesses use pop-ups as hype-building events. Make a name for yourself by creating an experience that people will want to share with their friends and family on social media and beyond. Get the local media involved too!

Where is the best location for your pop-up?

  • Street fair or community event – People love browsing at street fairs and supporting local businesses. Get involved. Check neighborhood associations, city calendars and local sporting events for opportunities.

  • Complementary business location – Get creative and find another business that your customers typically shop at, like a veterinarian setting up a booth at a farm supply store.

  • Experiential location – Depending on the purpose of your event, you might consider renting out a new and exciting venue to build hype and encourage media coverage. Communication with local media outlets and advertising is key when you’re going to be at an unusual location.

Do you have everything you need to set up a store from scratch?

  • Signage – Customers need to know who you are and what they’re looking at, not to mention prices!

  • Displays – How will you display your items? Foldable tables, glass cases, hangers or more specialized display equipment may be necessary.

  • Lighting – Make sure customers can see what you're selling, especially if you’re in a tent or the back corner of a convention hall.

  • Cleanliness – It seems obvious, but when you’re setting up and breaking down a pop-up store within 24 hours, making sure your space is neat and clean is an important step.

  • Above and beyond details – Bring in a little touch of your store, whether that’s decor, music or snacks. If you’re renting out a space to promote your brand, think live music, catered food or a local celebrity.

How will you manage logistics?

  • Transporting stock – If you want to use pop-ups on a regular basis, you need a system for packing and transporting. Totes and hand trucks will save you time and effort, not to mention a reliable box truck.

  • Staffing – Depending on when and where you’re hosting your pop-up store, you might have to staff both your existing location and your pop-up. Consider the potential for overtime pay as well.

  • Storage and staging space – While every venue is different, be sure to stake out space to store products and equipment that aren’t in use.

  • Managing security – Discourage theft with cameras and locked cases if you sell small, handheld products that can be easily pocketed.

  • Taking payment – Last but certainly not least, make sure you can take both cash and card payments. There are POS devices out there that run on cellular networks and handheld models that come with built-in receipt printers – exactly what you need for on-the-go payments.

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