Pop-up era: How temporary stores are changing retail in the Bay Area

By Annie Sciacca
East Bay Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Temporary pop-up stores are big business this year for small entrepreneurs and even some giant retailers.

East Bay Times

With the holiday season in full swing, pop-up shops seem to be everywhere.

Once primarily a tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs to introduce their products to a market, test out business concepts and make use of empty or underused real estate, these temporary stores are now used even by big retailers like Amazon in an effort to turn retail into an event.

Still, the concept remains an important tool for makers and small businesses to get a toehold in the Bay Area amid the high costs of doing business, and the holiday shopping season is a prime time for them to open.

That’s the case for Sara Weymouth, who recently opened her new gift store, Lemon, in the form of a temporary pop-up in Danville.

“I think it’s a little bit of testing the market and testing out the shop as a whole,” Weymouth said of her decision to open a pop-up instead of aiming for a more permanent lease.

The pop-up for Lemon, which sells a variety of handmade goods, including baby items, home decor, holiday decorations and toddler furniture, will be open a total of 45 days. While Weymouth said she considered signing a more permanent lease, the temporary pop-up concept appealed to her as a way to test out the new business during the busy shopping season.

Makers and small business owners in the Bay Area have increasingly turned to pop-ups in recent years as a way to gain a physical presence in a market where real estate and other costs of business are high.

San Jose Made, a local organization with a goal of growing the community and visibility of makers, craftspeople and artisan businesses, often organizes events and coordinates pop-ups for its members. It has been working with the Westfield Valley Fair mall for several years in hosting pop-up shops for local makers.

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