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September 21st, 2010Boo! Pop-Up Stores Popping Up All Over

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by Jamie Tarabay

Retailers are getting ready for the holiday shopping season, and to avoid the cost of long-term leases and permanent locations — as well as long-term obligations to workers — more and more companies are selling their goods out of “pop-up” stores.

“We’ve been here since the day before Labor Day,” says Eddie Hill, who’s worked at the Halloween Express that’s popped up in a northern Virginia mall for the last six years.

In the store’s window, a skeleton sits at cards with a mummy. On the table are gold coins and severed fingers. Inside, a witch cackles over a crystal ball and mummies creak as they sit up out of their graves.

Pop-up stores are outlets that appear in malls and other locations for only a few months. Once the holiday is over, the store packs up and vacates — leaving employees behind.

“During the off-season, I struggle to find work with the economy and all,” Hill says. “You know, luckily, this thing always pops up — and when it does, I’m always invited back.”

Halloween Express fills a space next to the Cheesecake Factory and a Corner Bakery. The previous permanent tenant, a furniture store, filed for bankruptcy protection. Hill says it’s an arrangement that works for the store’s owner — and for the mall.

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