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Pop-up shops keep popping up, and big business is trying to cash in on the trend

Signage and merchandise is seen at Showtime's
Signage and merchandise is seen at Showtime's "Twin Peaks" Double R Diner Pop-Up on Melrose Avenue on October 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Paul Butterfield/Getty Images

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There are pop-ups for everything now: museums, operas, restaurants, a Twin Peaks-themed coffee shop, pretty much everything.

This is all happening as cornerstones of physical retail—think malls, department stores, everything but Amazon—are struggling to attract physical visits rather than virtual ones. Big business is catching on to the hotness of pop-ups, and now there are two kinds of pop-ups. The first is the traditional kind: a small business owner wants to start out but can’t afford to lease a commercial space, so they pair up with or rent out the capital they need from another business. Business grows, and eventually, the entrepreneur is able open their own brick-and-mortar business. The other kind is a corporate co-opting of this model that’s designed to attract shoppers with a “limited-time only!” spiel. Google, Target, those Halloween and Christmas stores, and Amazon’s book stores (ironic much?) are just a few examples.

Why do shoppers love pop-ups? Are faux pop-ups working for big business? Is it squeezing out the little guy? What pop-ups work really well?


Nick Schreiber,  co-owner of Belle’s Bagels, a bagel pop-up at a Highland Park music venue

Melissa Gonzalez, founder of The Lion’Esque Group, a retail strategy firm that specializes in pop-ups