Pop-up shops: The best and worst in Toronto

If you live in any major city, then you may have noticed a new craze taking over your streets. Pop-up shops started emerging in metropolitan hubs a few years back as a trend for retail outlets. Since then, this fad has grown and proved to be more permanent than the ventures themselves, resulting in the “popping up” of restaurants, bars and other services. These temporary storefronts have become the latest and most exclusive way to generate buzz, with the temporary aspect used to create immediacy and draw in the crowds.

Pop-ups have been taking over the 6ix for various reasons and to varying success. To help your pop-up venture become a success, we have compiled a list below of the best and worst temporary events that have taken place in our fair city. Take a peek below for some tips on how to make your pop-up stick.

Seinfeld pop-up bar


Image courtesy of Closer Weekly

The Scoop: The spirit of the 90s is alive and well in Toronto, from jean skirts and chokers, to the recently launched Pokémon Go app. Another trend that has emerged from the 90s vault comes in the form of your favourite television shows. This June, two of your favourite television show cafes were supposed to open in Toronto: Central Perk of Friends, and Monks café from Seinfeld. Unfortunately, what could have been a “Festivus for the rest of us” never came to fruition, as both shops were cancelled before they even opened.

The Tip: Although tickets were bought and hype was generated, that wasn’t nearly enough to make these events happen. Our tip from these failed events? Know what you’re getting into. Both creators had generated more than enough buzz via Facebook event pages to make money on them, but they didn’t anticipate or prepare for the work that went into it. Central Perk was nixed due to copyright violation and Monk’s Café never opened due to the unanticipated workload for it’s creator. Neither of them had expected the hype that came from the idea of the events and neither wanted to put in the work. Before you start your pop-up shop journey, make sure you know what it entails and the amount of work needed to make it a success.

Ferris Bueller’s room at the Gladstone Hotel

Image used courtesy of the Gladstone Hotel (http://www.gladstonehotel.com/uncategorized-1/cutmr-2016-sarah-keenlyside-on-recreating-ferris-buellers-bedroom/)

Image used courtesy of the Gladstone Hotel

The Scoop: Each year, Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel teams up with artists to design an installation on the second floor of this iconic hotel. This year, capitalizing on a popular movie and their fan base’s nostalgia, the theme was the iconic 80s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Do you remember the one? A simple plot line of a rebellious high-schooler determined to skip school quickly became a cult classic and remains popular to this day. Although you couldn’t actually stay in the room, the project was very successful with the buzz it generated.  Scouring thrift stores and friend’s places, the team behind the pop-up art installation successfully brought the dream of the 80s to Toronto.

The Tip: Instead of dealing with the major copyright costs and ending up with the same fate as the Seinfeld and Friends ventures, take your tips from the Gladstone Hotel instead. They managed to avoid major issues by using solely the imagery to evoke nostalgia. Think about recreating a space instead of using the name of a place to avoid being shut down. Use the power of your senses to bring the project to life and generate hype.

Vitality pop-up shop

Image courtesy of blogTO (http://www.blogto.com/fashion_style/2013/04/vitaly_design_hosts_its_first_ever_pop-up_at_oz_studios/)

Image courtesy of blogTO

The Scoop: Toronto-based company Vitality Design has become an expert in pop-up shops after hosting their first one back in 2013. Since then, they have hosted four more pop-ups, with the fifth in May 2016, near Yonge and Dundas. Every year, the designer brings something special to the shop (since it is the only physical store location that exists), selling their products online and in other boutiques. Pairing up with other designers, musicians and artists, the Vitality Design pop-up shop is constantly changing and evolving to make it an event that Toronto keeps looking forward to.

The Tip: Pop-up shops are supposed to create the illusion of exclusivity and that is exactly what Vitality Design feeds off of. Although they have held many pop-up events, they always manage to bring unique elements to each of them, fuelling the desire to attend. By partnering with designers that share their values, they become a one-stop-shop for their dedicated clientele. They also invite local artists and musicians to stop by. This way, you get to browse, relax and enjoy an all-inclusive environment that feels less like shopping and more like an intimate launch party. When planning your pop-up, create an experience that is unique to your brand and entices people to explore what makes your brand distinct.

Justin Bieber Purpose World Tour pop-up

Image courtesy of High Snobiety (http://www.highsnobiety.com/2016/05/05/justin-bieber-pop-up-shop-vfiles/#slide-5)

Image courtesy of High Snobiety

The Scoop: Though all concerts tend to have some form of merchandise at each venue, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber decided to launch his tour items in the form of a pop up shop. For two days in Toronto, you could stop by the Queen Street West location and pick up Purpose World Tour souvenirs, even if you didn’t make it to his show. With line ups around the block of fans hoping to catch a glance of the Biebs, this Toronto pop-up shop was as big of a success story as the artist himself.

The Tip: Time frame, time frame, time frame. That is exactly what made the Purpose pop-up shop such a success. Since it coincided with the dates of his Toronto concerts, Justin was already on the forefront of everyone’s mind. This, combined with the fact that this store was only open for two-days, forced everyone to rush to the location if they were hoping to snag any apparel. A short time frame is not only cheaper in terms of rent prices, it also creates a sense of urgency for shoppers. No one wants to risk missing out on something so rare, so consider creating the illusion of need by drastically limiting the time of your pop-up. It will help generate buzz and also translate into larger sales at a much lower cost.

Pop-up shops are almost always guaranteed to draw a crowd. The restricted access and enticing content are bound to bring in sales, but also coverage. Pop-up shops are all about growing your business, so make sure your brand is represented how you want it to be.

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By | 2017-09-19T00:43:54-04:00 August 11th, 2016|All, Digital Media|0 Comments

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