Hopefully by now you’ve started to think more seriously about doing a pop-up and have been inspired by the many types of locations you can pick from, the number of reasons why you should consider doing one, and the fact that it’s a trend that’s not going away.
So, what’s next?
In this post, we’ll look at some of the practicalities around doing a pop-up and outline some next steps to help turn your quest to give physical retail a shot into a reality. In fact, hunting for pop-up space is really like looking for any new space, you need only think back to the last time you were looking for an apartment or house and add a few commercial goals into the mix.
Let’s say you’ve got a good handle on what your goals are for your pop-up and know how long you want to do one for. Maybe you already have a checklist of things to look for while scouting locations. We’re going to even assume that you’ve done some searching and narrowed down your options to 2-3 locations and are in the process of contacting property owners or the commercial real-estate agent.
Here are the questions you need to ask before you make up your mind and some things to watch out for.
Get Your Questions Answered
It's important to demonstrate to property managers and real estate agents that you've done your homework and that you have your bases covered. Once you get them on the phone or drop in to see them in person, you should have the following list of questions ready to ask upfront in order to get a complete understanding of what you’re getting into:
1) What is the rental cost?
Based on your own unique timeline, you’ll probably want to get a daily, weekly, or monthly rate depending on the type of space and how long you plan to be there.
2) What is included in the rental cost?
This is where you’ll want to drill down on what you’re getting for your money and get specific on things like square footage, timings, and dates.
3) Are there any additional utility costs?
If so, clarify upfront what they are and how they’re being split up. As in make sure you determine what you’re responsible for and whether that’s reasonable.
4) What is the layout of the space?
You’ll want to have a good grasp on this to start visualizing what the final space could potentially look like.
5) What are the specific dimensions of the ceiling, windows, doors, counters, pillars...etc?
Not only will this be handy when you get down to designing your displays or printing signage, it’ll give you a sense of how much or how little you’ll need to dress up or dress down the space.
6) Can the space be modified?
This essentially boils down to how much control you have on the space itself. Obviously, if it’s a gallery and you’re sharing with multiple vendors, don’t expect being able to drill holes into the wall, but definitely make sure to determine their do’s and don’ts and whether they'll work for you.
7) Who is liable for what?
Owners will typically attempt to limit their liabilities when it comes to unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances, so you’ll probably want to read the fine print and know ahead of time instead of disputing or creating a claim down the road.
8) Is there internet or WiFi?
You’ll need an internet connection to carry out transactions and accept credit card payments, which definitely makes this a pretty big necessity. Whether it’s through your iPad POS or a mobile card reader, make sure to have this base covered.
9) Will you need insurance?
Getting property insurance is often a prerequisite in signing the agreement to cover any number of things that could go wrong, including but not limited to theft, venue or glass repairs, merchandise damage and more.
10) What is the deposit required to secure the venue?
Typically, if you’re thinking as long term as 2-3 months, this will be at least the first month’s rent. For shorter timeline, you’re probably expected to at least put down a third of the total rent payment. But again, it varies, so make sure to ask.
11) What is the average foot traffic you can expect?
Even though you’ll most likely want to see this for yourself by hanging around the venue on the same days or timings that you’re looking to do a pop-up, it can be helpful to have these numbers if the property owner has them. This becomes even more pertinent if you’re getting a booth at a tradeshow.
Once you’ve got those questions out of the way, next up, you’ll want to figure out whether you’ll be signing a lease, licence or having to apply for a permit.
Leases, Licences, and Permits...Oh My!
Now, all that might sound a bit intimidating but before you run away from the idea of offline selling because of some technical and legal jargon, let’s break down what each of these three types of agreements can mean for you.
Under a lease, the person using the stated land is considered a tenant, and given exclusive possession for the duration of the time agreed upon, otherwise known as the “term” of the lease. The “terms” will also include what you’ll be able to do the space when it comes to modifications, hours of operation and several of the other key aspects discussed above, including rent, utilities...etc.
This gives legal authority to you, the licensee, to use the owner or licensor’s asset, without which you using it would be unlawful. These are generally given out for more short-term occupants but comes with generally a more limited arrangement and does not guarantee exclusive use of the property.
Each region will have its own regulations, so based on what you’re intending to do, you’ll want to make sure you’re within the bounds of the law. For example, many cities require you to have a permit to sell food and alcohol.
Once you’ve done your homework and assessed whether a potential location is a good fit or not, most likely, the next step is to actually go out and see the place in person during the hours the pop-up will run. Make sure to do this multiple times throughout the week at different times of the day. From there, once you've got your mind made, request to see the lease agreement.
But before you sign anything, take a few days to thoroughly review the agreement, or better yet, have a legal professional take a look to mitigate liabilities and make sure there aren’t any apparent shortcomings in the deal. However, if the price is right, the agreement works with your specifications, and the location is perfect for your goals, then you’ll want to put down the initial deposit to secure the venue and start planning how you're going to make the pop-up a success.
That means thinking about how the pop-up will communicate your brand's story, what the interior will look like, what kind of signage you'll need and how you can dress up your windows to get the attention of everyone who walks by. If there's anything else merchants should be on the lookout for while closing the deal on their pop-up location or if you've been there, done that, and have tips to share, be sure to tell us in the comments below.
(Image Credits: Retail Design Blog)