Why Pop-Up Shops Are Hot
By Bridget Finn

(Business 2.0) – Temporary stores that vanish in a flash are surfacing nationwide, pushing everything from dish soap to Courvoisier-branded sneakers. The "pop-up" store concept—which blends retail with event marketing—was born three years ago when cutting-edge retailer Vacant opened a shop in London for just a month. Now a variety of companies are using pop-ups to build buzz on the cheap; Method found that opening a temporary store cost no more than putting up a billboard. "Pop-up stores are the newest trend in guerrilla marketing," says Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail. "We'll see a lot more of these in the future." Here's what you can glean from three different strategies. — BRIDGET FINN

METHOD

•DURATION: August to November 2004, with plans to repeat the concept across the country. •LOCATION: A storefront near San Francisco's Union Square. •SELLING: Bathroom and kitchen cleaners, hand and dish soaps. •THE POINT: Spotlighting the differences. Method created a gallery-like setting to bypass fights for supermarket shelf space and showcase its sensuously curved containers.

VACANT

•DURATION: One week to a month. •LOCATION: Dozens of outlets, ranging from a Hummer parked in Miami's Design District to a boutique at Marshall Field's in Chicago. Vacant will pop up in Los Angeles and Toronto this winter. •SELLING: Limited-edition urban apparel from brands like Reebok and Puma. •THE POINT: Buzz building. The only way to find Vacant's next location is by newsletter or word of mouth. Merchandise usually sells out in less than a week.

MEOW MIX

•DURATION: Two weeks in August, with plans to repeat next year. •LOCATION: A cafe for kitties in midtown Manhattan. •SELLING: Food and toys for Fluffy; entrées for humans. •THE POINT: Brand revival. After Purina unloaded the stagnant line of dry cat food, Meow Mix's new owners used the pop-up event to introduce a line of wet food. CEO Richard Thompson says the $200,000 effort was "worth $10 million in publicity."