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Winter 2011 Pop-up Power

Pop-up stores fill an important niche in your mall. Find out what you can do to attract them to yours.

Over Halloween and the holidays, many shoppers saw familiar seasonal stores “pop-up” in vacant storefronts at their local mall.

Why pop-up?

In today’s economic climate the reality is it’s becoming more of a renters market than a mall manager’s market. So it is a good opportunity for mall managers, owners and brokers, to get in on the pop-up trend. Pop-up stores can reinvigorate and improve the vacant space. They can generate much-needed cash flow; they can renew market interest in the property and create buzz in the neighborhood.

For chain retailers attempting to enter new markets, a pop-up shop can more accurately determine if certain locations are prime for increased attention than any data points can provide. For smaller online retailers, pop-up stores can provide the personal connection to buyers that a website is unable to offer. For manufacturers who sell their products through distributors, a temporary store can enhance brand recognition.

So as more companies are seeing the benefits, it’s important for mall managers to know how to attract them. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to attract stores to the pop-up model.

Call old tenants. Try reaching out to former tenants that have vacated and see if they would be interested in a temporary space. A perfect example is Borders Express, which is offering a selection of products in smaller spaces at some of the malls where larger Borders stores went dark.

Advertise specifically for pop-ups. Many property owners and mall managers and brokers are used to being tracked down by retailers for space. So it’s not uncommon for property owners to be wary of how to target retailers. Make sure your advertising is targeted so you can connect directly with retailers who are scouting specifically for temporary locations.

Study your shopper. When courting temporary tenants, mall managers must ensure that the customer demographics will complement, not compete with, existing permanent tenants. Doing so shows the tenants that as the mall manager, you are protecting your year-round tenants—which could lead to a higher probability of that temporary tenant becoming permanent.

Create a marketing calendar. One way a mall owner can stay profitable in the coming months is to create a marketing calendar. By marking specific days and weeks that feature “Shopping Holidays” like Valentine’s Day, Easter, July 4th, and so on, or a wedding or graduation, a mall owner can use the calendar to market to specific merchants and fill temporary space year round.

Create a turnkey store. Since time is of the essence with temporary retailers, when advertising space to pop-up tenants, it’s important for mall managers to have available spaces that are clean and ready to go. The less time a retailer spends cleaning up the vacant spot, the quicker they can be ready to open to the public. It’s also important to ensure all necessary utilities (electricity, phone, Internet) are ready to be activated for the tenant.

Christina Norsig

Christina Norsig is founder and CEO of, the first online exchange specifically created to connect landlords with vacant retail space and retailers in search of a temporary home.

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