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by Zehra Kazmi and Abhijit Patnaik

It is a wish that every inveterate online shopper has felt at some point— wouldn’t it be great if you could touch, feel and try the products? For a few weeks, online fashion store Freecultr made this wish come true. Anyone who walked into DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi was greeted by a temporary store with a simple modus operandi: try the products here, order them online. Mission accomplished, the store packed up.

These ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ shops are part of the pop-up phenomenon which was born in the recession-hit West. Want people to try out your food but have no money to open a restaurant? Set up a pop-up restaurant on your terrace and invite people over. Want to organise an art show but a gallery is too expensive? Hire an empty shop or factory floor and you’re good to go.

For Nandini Sood and Anupama Bhat of Goma, setting up a pop-up restaurant in one of their friends’ home was a promotional tactic for their catering service. “It’s good when you’re starting out — you put the word out and people come by,” said Sood. The thumbs-up that their Japanese ‘restaurant’ got has led them to do more such pop-ups. “It’s a different experience from a normal restaurant. We don’t have wait staff, we do everything ourselves.”

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