Cashing in on the “Pop Up” Store

The Lempert Report
October 25, 2013

Around various holidays, we tend to see a boom in the pop up stores.

Around various holidays, we tend to see a boom in the pop up stores. Occasion-based retail sites offering a singular and very focused product line. We’re bound to see them soon in time for Halloween and Christmas. Supermarkets can do pop-ups too for different year-round seasonal opportunities. For example, the ShopRite Passover store and the Kroger grilling and tailgating set-up at the recent Richmond International Speedway NASCAR race. Both use a chain’s name as solution providers when a defined range of foods and products are in short-term demand. We believe the supermarkets hold a strong advantage over the typical nameless pop-up shops that appear and disappear on the retail landscape: customer trust in the marquee name, and a feeling of comfort about the store’s product quality and price fairness. Because this trust exists, supermarkets (and other known retailers) can generate traffic and good-sized baskets that others can’t. Pop-ups are largely seen as ways to capitalize on short-lived seasonal events. Yet we believe products that target specific occasions could have enduring sales lives online all year long. Turkey, for instance, is one of the least expensive, versatile, satisfying high-protein foods in the store. Sure, Thanksgiving is the peak sales period. But there’s no reason not to sell frozen turkeys online for much of the year. Or how about Christmas in July parties with egg nog, whipped cream desserts, invitations, party supplies and more. Even within season, supermarkets should test their shoppers’ propensity for fun, costume and makeup contests around Halloween or nutrition-for-better-academics seminars during back-to-School. Stores could also get edgier with private labels, such as cake and cookie mixes in holiday colors—to give shoppers new ideas and expand their image of how the marquee retailer could serve them in unexpected ways.