Pop-Up Retail

The concept of pop-up retail isn’t new.  Within the past 10 years, many retailers have played with this idea of getting their product out there in a temporary, or installation-like environment.

Trend Watching did an article about this concept about six years ago, featuring some familiar and not-so-familiar vendors who are playing with this concept. In NYC, we get to enjoy the fruits of many of these retailers’ labors as we tend to visit, talk up, and get a general kick out of the pop-up stores that frequent our town.  One of the most popular and best known is the Target pop-up shop, originally in Rockefeller Center, and incarnated more than once as a floating shop on the Hudson River.  We also got to enjoy one near Bryant Park back in the spring, when Target joined with London-based Liberty clothiers to feature flowery items of every variety.

While large retailers can take on this concept at a grand scale, I’m particularly enamored by the smaller establishments who test it out.  I visited two pop-up shops this week that were conceived by smaller, local purveyors, each with its own twist on this concept.

Installation-like Pop-Up Shop NYTCredit: Robert Wright for the New York Times

Nightwood, a Brooklyn furniture and textile design studio, has opened a pop-up shop at be@schermerhorn, one of the many new high-end condominium developments in downtown Brooklyn. As many of these developments are undergoing difficulties in the current market, they are getting creative with the use of their spaces (rent-to-own arrangements, short-term business rentals). The pop-up shop provides a reasonable, symbiotic way for back-scratching between large and small business interests. The space is quite large – 4,000 square feet – and is arranged in an installation-like display, with vignettes of furnishings clustered around the raw space.

My visit met with a Closed sign, but I’m anxious to visit again to gape up-close-and-personal.  The shop is open until October 31st: 189 Schermerhorn Street (Hoyt Street); the entrance is around the corner on Livingston Street. Information: (347) 249-9552.

In Pursuit of Tea’s pop-up shop on Crosby Street in Manhattan.

My second visit was to In Pursuit of Tea‘s pop-up shop on Crosby Street in SoHo. Opened last week, this shop is one of the first for this Brooklyn-based tea purveyor, which primarily sells online and to restaurants and fine retailers, and usually stays away from the retail end of the business. Unlike Nightwood’s space, this one is tiny – a few hundred square feet – and is set up as a traditional retail beverage locale, not a limited-time installation.  The handmade, raw wood and tree-trunk legged counter stands alongside a raw wooden bench, a few chairs, a small display of the company’s product, and images of the tea plantations that owner Sebastian Beckwith visits to source his teas.  They had three iced teas available for purchase, a simple setup for a quiet SoHo street, which made for a nice visit and an unusual location for this type of experiment.  Those who know good tea will most likely hear about this and seek it out.  It’s not flashy, and they aren’t testing out new product or a new retail concept for their tea-drinking public.  Yet the space allows for a simple stop within a crowded, over-sensitized part of the city, which can be quite refreshing.

In Pursuit of Tea’s pop-up shop is located at 33 Crosby Street, New York, NY.  Open M-F 12-7pm, Sat-Sun 11-7pm.  There is no scheduled end date for this retail experiment.

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