The strength of POP-UP shops

Products and collections come and go. Most high streets have the same designer shops and have become monotonous. This asks for, and also creates room for, a counter trend: more and more shops opt to take on a temporary, mobile format, which has proven to be very effective. People enjoy the element of surprise.

Customers desire a “unique” encounter in this experience economy. Temporary shops appear unannounced, attract an audience rapidly and disappear again, or find a permanent position. They add the fresh, exclusive and inspiring element that theatre on location and temporary galleries have been using for years to attract customers.

US launches first guerrilla shop

In 2003, the first guerrilla shop opened its doors at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Target sold a women's collection for only one month. The following year, Target opened a floating shop on the Hudson River. Another important pioneer was Comme des Garcons; this guerrilla shop opened temporary shops in Berlin and Tokyo in 2004.


Guerrilla shops are original and innovative, and are used more and more during major (fashion and design) events. Milan has become the trendsetter in this field due to the famous furniture fair Salone de Mobile. Visitors and consumers can experience the perception of a design in a conceptual showroom. Temporality is the keyword: enjoy it while it lasts because soon you won't be able to.

Mobility is also a form of temporality that appeals to a lot of people. For example in 2003 the London Fashion Bus was the first to tour the streets of London while displaying designs by young fashion designers. This 'Urban Catwalk' became a huge success.

Guerrilla shops in the Netherlands

The guerrilla shop concept has led to more diversity in shop concepts. There are also famous guerrilla shops in the Netherlands such as Salon1 and Store Without a Home. However, some shops crave permanency. They want to build an established name for themselves, which requires a distinct location. A guerrilla shop is difficult to manage logistically and as a pop-up shop you do not invest in the property.

Permanently temporary

A solution in which a permanent location can be combined with the appeal of a temporary nature can be found in a shop where the location is the only permanent factor. A good example of this combination can be found in the Dover Street Market in London. The interior, windows and collections of this successful shop change rapidly.

In Milan, some properties are designed only for temporary shops: the interior changes every time a new pop-up shop replaces a previous one. In the newly developed railway station Ecute Tachikawa in Tokyo, a place has been reserved for pop-up shops. Every two weeks, a new food shop appears. This system allows shops to have a distinct location, but keeps the element of surprise and exclusivity that visitors and brands are searching for.

What is ...

Pop-up shops, temporary shops, guerrilla shops, there is no real definition and there are no statistics available. However, the underlying characteristics are similar: It concerns temporary, commercial shopping facilities in existing shops or (partially) available spaces.

Online vs. physical

A growing number of consumers is drawn to the convenience of online shopping. Yet, people do like to visit temporary shops. In this experience economy, the integration of social interaction on offer in a 'temp shop' creates new opportunities for both consumers and shopkeepers alike to contact each other. Online shopping and a visit to the shop complement each other. (See also page 12: Applounge London).


- empty space, at least 100m2, ground floor
- communication via social media
- eye-catching location (also non-commercial area's)
- many passers-by, also at nighttime, during happy hour
- solid strategy (requires expertise & service)
- appealing shop display & windows
- good interior design
- entertaining staff
- no longer than 6 months available (in contrast to outlets)

The phenomenon

- entertaining, innovative
- socially interactive (consumer contact)
- impulse on location
- flexible usability
- inviting the consumers to experience the brands
- trend against mass production & consumption
- room for experimentation (business model)
- leg up for young entrepreneurs, designers
- hot spot
- possibility to focus on one item at the time (instead of a whole collection)
- financially interesting