Pop-Up Shops Help Cities Solve Vacancy Problems

Photo courtesy of TreeHugger

As the global economy remains stagnant, cities around the world are struggling to fill vacant storefronts in their communities. Many downtown spaces, once home to mom and pop grocers, dress shops, and corner stores, are now empty and the streets that were once bustling with activity are desolate. Since the late 2000s, however, many cities are experiencing a resurgence as many young professionals, recent graduates, and empty nesters have chosen to start a new life in downtown areas.

This spike in population has led to a growing demand for more retail, restaurants, and gallery spaces in the urban core. Many entrepreneurs, both young and old, are taking this opportunity to open their own small business to help fill various niches within these neighborhoods. Unfortunately, despite the excess of available space in many downtown areas, many entrepreneurs are often hesitant to sign a long-term lease. Starting a new business is a risky venture and the pressure of a long-term lease is great enough to cause any entrepreneur to second-guess their decision to take that risk.

Fortunately, in many cities across the globe, organizations, groups, and businesses have formed to help tenants locate commercial space and negotiate short-term leases. From popuphood in Oakland, California to Project: PopUp in Chattanooga, Tennessee, these groups are leading revitalization efforts in downtown areas by working with property owners and retailers to fill vacant storefronts.

Another such group is We Are Pop Up in London. The start-up company focuses on renting out commercial space to tenants who want to operate on a temporary basis. Whether a business is seasonal or looking for an “experimental retail” location, We Are Pop Up aims to help that business rent a storefront as easily as one would book a hotel room. In an effort to bring potential tenants and property owners together, the company stages pop-up meetings in cities where it has business meetings.

In London, the retail vacancy rate is about 14.4 percent and losses due to turnover amount to $60 billion dollars in the U.K. We Are Pop Up serves as a listing agent for shop owners seeking spaces to rent as pop-up stores. The selection of tenants therefore, is done by the property owners themselves and allows them to choose businesses or concepts they have a personal or financial interest in.

We Are Pop Up generates revenue by charging subscription fees for landlords who pay the right to browse through tenant listings. For three months of service, the company charges about $2,500. Tenants looking for a space, register with We Are Pop Up and provide a location where they would like to open up shop. According to We Are Pop Up, demand for services is high and the company continues to grow.

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