Pop-Up Stores Provide Lucrative Alternative For Small Businesses - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Curvel Baptiste, co-owner of shoe manufacturer MilkShakeNYC, uses pop-up stores to market company products. (Source: MilkshakeNYC)

Here today, gone tomorrow. That’s almost how you could describe the latest retail store trend sweeping through New York and the rest of the nation.

Savvy entrepreneurs and larger retailers are opening up temporary stores, or “pop-ups” in empty storefronts, simultaneously boosting their brand and bottom line. The stores can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. And with the U.S. retail vacancy rate at 7.6%, for the third quarter of 2009, compared with 6.4% for the third quarter of 2008, according CoStar Group, Inc.– and the holidays just around the corner– now might be the best time to take advantage of the weak commercial real estate market.

“Normally a lease for retail space would span 12 to 36 months,” says George Ratiu, an economist at the National Association of Realtors. “Now landlords are willing to do 10 to 20 days.”

Pop-up stores are not new or uncommon in Manhattan, Paris, London, and Tokyo where the world of high fashion pervades. National brands with large marketing budgets have been utilizing the concept for years, but now that retail vacancies have increased and rents have decreased, smaller companies are starting to participate, too.

“Due to high vacancies in the retail sector this [pop-up] concept has taken on a broader appeal to a lot of merchandisers, particularly when landlords in the retail space are eager to fill space even on a short-term basis,” Ratiu says.

Curvel Baptiste, co-owner of MilkshakeNYC, a women’s sneaker manufacturer, launched pop-up stores in Washington D.C. and Brooklyn, New York, over the summer. At the Brooklyn location he rented a garage/art gallery for a little over $1,100 for three weeks, but grossed $1,200 a day.

“Retailers use pop-up stores to not only sell products … but to market their brands with promotional events and evaluate the local market,” Baptiste says.

Gucci, Target, the Gap, and Uniqlo are just a few of the many retailers that have launched pop-ups in New York in the past few years.

MilkshakeNYC, which doesn’t have a retail showroom, plans to open a pop-up store for two months in Harlem for the holidays.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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