The Awakened Community – How to Resuscitate Your Retail Riches with a Pop-up Shop

Spruiker hire

By Desley Cowley

Is retail hurting…or just shifting…or a bit of both?

I suspect a little of both when you look at the statistics.

Having said that, after 30 years in the industry I’ve experienced the highs and lows for one reason or another.  I’ve seen good retailers fail and poor retailers thrive.


It’s a given that you must have the right product, in the right place at the right time and slow times generally result in a reduction in the number of competitors in the market…which then leaves a little bit more to go around for the ones that are left.

So, how do you become one of the ones that are left…assuming you have the right product, right place, right time?

Excite and involve your community

According to Catherine R. Bell in collaboration with Russ Hudson and Christopher Papadopoulous in their book ‘The Awakened Company’ we must ‘awaken to the importance of community’ and create ‘caring business communities’.

They say that ‘Businesses can be prosperous, sustainable, caring, interlocking communities that benefit all their stakeholders and investors – those who work in them, the communities they serve, the international community, and the planet.’

…and I, for one, agree!

A pop-up shop in your local shopping centre is one strategy to get up close and personal with your customers.

Pop-up shops add texture and flavour to retail communities

Whether you are a full time retailer with one or more permanently leased stores inside or outside your local shopping centre, a travelling retailer who hits the show circuit, a regular weekend market stall holder or a home based business selling your product primarily online, taking space in a strong, high traffic flow shopping centre as just one strategy in your marketing tool box will reap high rewards if managed correctly.

To gain the best results from your pop up adventure you should:

Plan well ahead

You know the saying about he who fails to plan, plans to fail?  Very true when it comes to setting up your pop-up shop.

Find the right location within the shopping center

Take the time to scope out the shopping center well in advance.  Talk to pop-up shops in the center over weeks leading up to your event.

Find the best location for you

Some offers require a quiet location that will enable you to have the time and space to be able to talk to your potential customers at length.

For others it’s a pure numbers game.  The more customers passing by, the more you will sell.

Create an event

Have some type of activity to attract people to come over and find out what’s going on.  It could be as simple as:

  • free balloons
  • face painting for the kids
  • free 5-minute massage
  • product demonstration
  • food sampling
  • competition – win your product or someone else’s
  • chocolate wheel

Develop a call to action

Have a limited offer, for example:

  • 20 left
  • first 10 customers
  • free gift with purchase
  • 12 months’ free access
  • buy one get one free
  • hourly specials

Have plenty of promotional material to distribute

Whether you are selling the latest kitchen product, food line or reclining rockers, always have plenty of promotional material for people to take away.

Something to keep for when they are ready to buy. Often people are genuinely interested, but can’t buy today.

Run a competition to collect their names and email addresses (with a tick box to confirm they are happy to receive further information from you), but only if you are going to create a database and actually mail them.

If you won’t be likely to mail them later, then make a condition of entry be that they have to listen to your presentation before receiving their entry form.

Network with retailers in the center

The retailers and staff in the center can be your greatest advocates if they like you.  Take the time to make them like you.  If you have an awesome product or a fun activity they’ll tell their customers to come and see you.

It’s in their interests and yours to keep customers in the center for longer.

Create a professional presentation

Look good at all times:

  • Use floor length tablecloths over your trestles.
  • Hide all your surplus stock, handbags and other junk under the trestles or in an available storage area (in your car if the center has no space available for you)
  • Invest in pull up banners and other professional signage.
  • Have stools to sit on if you must. Sit up straight, or stand. Don’t slouch or sit around in the center seating.
  • Wear a uniform or name badge so you are easily identified in the crowd around you.

Have trained and experienced staff

Your pop-up shop is not the place to train new team members.  You need to be presenting your best team members who will promote your business and upsell your product and who will present a professional image.

If you need to engage additional staff while you have your pop-up shop, get them in a couple of weeks in advance.  The investment will be well worth it.

During peak trading periods consider engaging a professional spruiker or demonstrator to promote your product. Their goal will be to attract attention to your pop-up shop where your experienced and trained team can go to work to sell them on the benefits.

This article was kindly provided by Desley Cowley from Spruiker Hire

Desley Cowley is an independent licensed shopping center manager, speaker, trainer and facilitator.

She works with owners and developers to turn underperforming retail assets into strong and profitable community hubs and helps shopping centers and retailers source and train quality talent for events, promotions and sales activities.

Desley has developed Spruiker Hire to include a national online talent directory and training course to help retailers build stronger communities.

She also offers a unique suite of products specifically targeting retail.  For:

  • Retail community – Community Builder
  • Shopping center owners/developers/managers – The Retail Road to Recovery
  • Retailers – The Spruiker Hire GLC Method Workshops
  • Retail talent – Spruiker/sales training and online directory

It’s her vision to build inclusive compassionate retail and hospitality communities across Australia designed to make a difference by helping retailers create amazing income generating community focused events for their businesses.

Desley is a CCIQ partner, member of the CQUni Regional Engagement Committee – Rockhampton and is also President of BusiWomen, a Capricorn Coast based not-for-profit that provides opportunities for women in business to connect.

Contact details for Spruiker Hire: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter



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