Pop-up retail stores are nothing new. Shoppers are no longer suprised to see vacant retail spaces fill up during the holiday season with specialty stores, such as the Halloween Express now open in a former Kincaid Home Furnishing Store on Manchester across the street from Manchester Highlands.
It takes a lot of planning to make a store as large as Halloween Express magically appear for the frightfully short Halloween shopping season. According to a store employee, the store’s locations are scouted out at the beginning of summer, and employees set up merchandise in August.
“We start ordering for Halloween after last Halloween,” one employee said.
Halloween Express plans to stay open for a few days after Oct. 31, depending on how much merchandise it has to sell, then the employee’s take about two weeks to close the shop. All of the employee’s at the Manchester location are temporary.
In recent years, pop-up stores are a viable option because retail space has been so cheap during the recession. According to a USA Today article, many landlords are happy to sign a short-term lease and gain a few months rent rather than see their property remain vacant.
However, the ease of finding cheap retail spaces may be coming to an end. CoStar Group, a real estate information company, reported in May that vacancy rates were falling for retail real estate, and landlords should start seeing “meaningful rent growth” by the end of 2011.
Toys 'R Us has been a big user of pop-up stores. Toys ‘R Us announced in August that it would open fewer temporary stores this holiday shopping season. Last year the toy seller opened 600 stores, but it hasn’t announced how many temporary stores it plans to open this year.
The pop-up store concept isn’t going away soon. Even as rents go up, they’re a useful tool for stores to test new markets and take advantage of seasonal demand. Halloween costumes, calendars and Christmas gift goodies are all in high demand for only a short season. For businesses like these, it makes sense to only pay rent when their product is in peak demand.
On the Horizon:
- 3rd Annual Creating Connections Business Expo, sponsored by the West County Chamber of Commerce, will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 13 at Life Time Fitness.
- Healthiest Employers: an event sponsored by the St. Louis Business Journal to recognize businesses with exceptional health and wellness programs will be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Renaissance Grand Hotel. The cost is $100 per person.
- BADD 2011: Business Analyst Development Day. A daylong event sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis, held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 8 at Washington University. The cost is $65 for members, $75 for nonmembers.