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Should you invest in a pop-up shop?

Are they a retail craze or just a phase? We give you the low-down. 

Winnipeg pop-up shops

If you spend any time on social networks these days it’s likely that you’ve seen one of many beautifully designed advertisement for “pop-up shops” that have sprung to life.

They're all over North America — including in and around Winnipeg.

These events range in locations. Some take place in Exchange District lofts, community centres, schools and even in the lobby of the Manitoba Hydro Building downtown. And they can be centred around themes such as seasonal products, crafts and food, or just a general gathering of artisans and businesses.

Recently, pop-up shops have been exploding in popularity, and with the recent influx of small businesses throughout the city we wanted to take a look at this trend in a little more detail.

What exactly is a pop-up shop?

Pop-up shops are just what they sound like: they are temporary, or "pop-up” versions of retail locations which are usually located in another space (usually a co-working or shared space).

They don’t always fit into brick-and-mortar stores and they generate most of their sales online. The term “pop-up” refers to how the stores “pop up” one day, and then disappear almost as mysteriously as they first appeared. Sounds magical, right?

Well, the amount of time that these short-term retailers are physically present in a space can vary, and for good reason. In some cases they only last a day, like when the store is opened as part of a short-term event or festival. Other pop-ups can last for weeks or even months depending on the lease, shop and specific situation, like when a retail outlet opens a pop-up to test a new geographic location, promote a new product or get rid of overflow inventory.

What are the benefits of pop-up shops?

Even though pop-up shops are temporary, they serve as great opportunities for small businesses to build interest in their products or services. Participating in pop-up shops allows them to connect with other businesses, influencers and customers within their target market.

Due to their temporary nature, pop-up shops provide retailers with an excellent opportunity to create a unique shopping experience for their customers. It create a sense of urgency (due to their short lifespan),m as well as feelings of relevance for themselves and the people attending the event.

Plus, it's #insta appeal that can't be denied. Get out your phones and post a pic of the one-of-a-kind space while you still can.

Pop-up shops also allow businesses to take advantage of seasonal products and interests, such as Christmas sales, Halloween pop-up shops and spring craft sales. They provide opportunities for businesses that can't afford a permanent brick-and-mortar store, allowing them a chance to take advantage of interesting locations, foot traffic and marketing — all without the costly overhead.

So…should you invest in a pop-up shop?

Whether or not a pop-up store is right for you can depend on a variety of factors, but overwhelmingly this trend is seen as a boon for small businesses and budding entrepreneurs.

Pop-ups provide businesses with a great, low-risk way to try out their business ideas and interact with customers face-to-face. They also provide great ways to “piggy back” onto local promotion for the pop-up event. That can help alleviate some of the stress that businesses feel when it comes to promoting their products online or driving traffic to their website, e-commerce store or Etsy shop.

Most importantly, participating in a pop-up shop benefits businesses because it allows them the rare opportunity to interact with customers face-to-face and create lasting impressions. Speaking to a shop owner about their process or having a conversation about a product can make a lasting impression on prospective customers. You simply can't get that same experience when ordering an item online.

Pop-up shops in Winnipeg

Pop-up shops aren’t just for hipsters! There are a wide variety of these retail surprises that happen all year long throughout Winnipeg. They vary in themes, locations and length of time.

Below are just a handful of the pop-ups to keep an eye on.

Women in Business Pop Up

WBOM pop-up shop

When: June 8 from 5:30 – 8:30pm

Where: Niakwa Country Club

Presented by the Women Business Owners of Manitoba and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba, this event features appetizers, wine and the chance to get to know more about locally-owned businesses.


Proutopia pop-up shop

When: June 11 and June 12 from 10am – 6pm

Where: 3044 Prout Rd in St. Andrews, MB

Proutopia! Is presented by Runs with Scissors Studio and features thirteen guest artists who will set up shop in the studio and sell their wares at this eclectic outdoor art market. If you’re interested in experiencing more local art, then this is the pop-up shop for you!

Lucky Girl Pop-Up Shop

Luckygirl Pop Up Shop

When: Seasonal events

Where: Locations, times and dates may vary

Lucky Girl Popup is a collective of local creative-types including artists, craftspeople, specialty foods and clothing retailers who come together for seasonal pop-up shops to share and sell their goods. Make sure to follow their Instagram account for information and some beautiful eye candy.

PUSH Pop Up Shops

Winnipeg PUSH pop-up shops

PUSH sponsors local startups and connects them with temporary space in vacant storefronts in downtown Winnipeg. The locations and residents of these stores will change over time, but right now tenants include Verda Terrariums, Oak + Oar, From Here and Away and Lennard Taylor.

For a full list of the PUSH pop-up shops, visit their website.

Have a shop ready to pop? Tell us in the comments below!

Alyson Shane

Alyson Shane is a writer and business owner from Winnipeg, Manitoba who has been publishing content online for 16+ years. She runs Starling Social, an agency which develops digital marketing strategies that combine social media, paid advertising and content strategy to keep businesses growing and engaged with their customers. Outside the office, Alyson is a passionate urbanist who loves gardening, riding her bike and thinking about the public spaces that bring us together. She can be reached on social media at @alysonshane.

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