Summer 2011 Pop-up With Heart

Shoppers in New York fell in love with a recent pop-up benefitting the American Heart Association.

Imagine creating a pop-up store that does two things at once: showcase prime retail space and raise money for charity. That’s exactly what the Heart Boutique pop-up successfully accomplished recently. Shoppers fell in love with the pop-up store benefiting the American Heart Association that appropriately made its debut in New York City on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Heartfelt effort

The Heart Boutique pop-up was created for a two-day shopping extravaganza fundraiser that was held just before Valentine’s Day. The 16,000-square-foot boutique featured five levels of shopping, food and activities with all proceeds going to the American Heart Association.

The unique shopping experience was created in conjunction with the annual “Go Red for Women” fundraiser luncheon, which is a charity event with proceeds benefitting the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association. The store was wildly successful, attracting hundreds of shoppers and raising more than $1 million for the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association. “It was an overwhelming response and a huge, huge, huge profit for the American Heart Association,” says Faith Hope Consolo, event organizer and co-chair of the Go Red luncheon. As chairman of the retail leasing, marketing and sales division at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York, Consolo organized the event and her firm donated the use of the space, which it was marketing.

In fact, the Heart Boutique was so successful that the American Heart Association is already talking about making it an annual event in New York. In addition, other chapters of the American Heart Association, such as Long Island and Philadelphia, are considering introducing Heart Boutique pop-ups in their own areas, Consolo adds.

Setting up shop

The boutique had a variety of merchandise at a wide range of price points, so that it was fun and accessible to everyone. “We had all kinds of merchandise from incidentals all the way up to luxury,” Consolo says. The Heart Boutique featured more than 30 vendors including names such as A Charmed Life, Ah!Dorned, The Chintz Giraffe, Excessorize, Scenterprises, and Triple Sweet to name a few.

An entire floor was designated for children and children-themed vendors; yet another floor was devoted to the Big Heart Café with food from Todd English and cupcakes from Crumbs bakeshop, among others. The café also featured mini-readings from America’s Best Psychics, and custom-designed T-shirts prepared on-site by students from Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute. “I think that [the eclectic variety] is what made it exciting, but also what made it a very unique shopping experience,” Consolo says.

Some people were attracted to the event simply for the opportunity to get a look inside the townhouse at 10 West 56th Street, which was once home to Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd. Two other key factors to the pop-up store’s success were the marketing and promotion efforts for the event and its prime location. The event organizers distributed hundreds of flyers, and promoted the event at local hotels to attract tourists. The central location in the heart of Midtown also was important to the big turnout. If it had been out of the way “it wouldn’t have worked,” Consolo says.

Huge undertaking

Organizing the charity event for such a short, two-day period was a huge task. “The challenge to me was not the concept or the content, but organizing it all and organizing the traffic flow,” Consolo says. Fortunately, one of Consolo’s co-workers at Prudential Douglas Elliman, Christine Traina, used to work in merchandising at Neiman Marcus. Traina generously volunteered her time to organize the event and was on-site to oversee set-up and make changes as needed to improve traffic flow. “I feel fortunate that she helped so much, because she organized the floor plan and the mix of vendors,” Consolo adds.

The 16,000-square-foot building had most recently housed an apartment, as well as retail space and corporate offices. “There was no furniture inside, but it had beautiful fixtures and it was really in pristine condition,” Consolo says. “So we just had to bring in props, and the products became part of the venue.”

Before taking on the Heart Boutique, Consolo created a similar charity pop-up store for the New York City Opera last year that stayed open for one week. That pop-up store, called Opera for Divas, was located in a two-level retail space that Prudential Douglas Elliman was marketing at 717 Madison Avenue. “We took donations of vintage clothing for men and women and some accessories for the home, and then we created an Opera Night,” Consolo says.

For the Heart Boutique event, Consolo was able to pull from her substantial Rolodex of past retail clients to help fill the space with vendors—all of whom donated their proceeds to the charity.

The event helped to showcase the space to a large group of people, and to show how it could potentially be used as a retail venue; which added to the benefit of this benefit.