Pop Up Stores As Drivers of the Retail Revolution

By: Jabu Sopete

If you’ve been considering opening a pop up store, now is the perfect time to put that idea into action; and here’s why.

As you may have noticed, major local retailers have recently began offloading foreign brands and are awarding more investments to their in-house and lower end brands – in an effort to diversify their consumer experience. Edcon has discontinued operation of some of their international brands with River Island being one of the more famous brands to jump ship.

What we’ve also observed is how due to the recent recession well-known brands under the Stuttafords umbrella have fallen prey to credit trap. This hindered the brands’ operations and thus led to the closure of many branches around South Africa. Despite challenges faced by other major retail holdings companies, one company in particular seems to be making all the right moves. The Fix, under the Foschini Group, is currently one of the emerging lower fast fashion retail brands. One may wonder what makes this brand so popular among consumers, one thing is that they have a great price point and bring cutting edge trends to their hundreds of stores nationwide. Whereas some brands tend to miss the mark on pricing due to failure to do the research on the country’s current state of economy and average income for their target market. With the growing hunger for exciting shopping experiences and finding a unique piece that will stand out from the crowd; retailers tend to fail consumers by how they homogenize everyone. Many retail stores present similar collections, not allowing the consumer the option to find something other than the generic trend.

source: mediaupdate.co.za

Pops up stores have in this regard an opportunity to meet the growing demand. Although variations of the pop up store concept has been around for decades, they have been revived and with the use of social media have become more prevalent.  They are driving the retail revolution; and introducing shopping experiences/ trends like showrooming and webrooming. These stores are bridging the gap by building a stronger emotional resonance, customizing their operations to their clientele and staying ahead of the trends.

This fashion mass retail drought period presents a perfect opportunity for Pop Up store entrepreneurs who are creative and innovative to:

  • Off load inventory that is not doing well online and essentially test out a new revenue stream.
  • Use pop ups as a marketing opportunity to amplify brand’s reach by immersing consumers further into the brand dna, connect with them on a much deeper level and potentially build a following.
  • Introduce new products/ranges by experimenting with the market.

Some of South Africa’s most notable and my personal favorite pop up store concepts/entrepreneurs tasting success include Punk & Ivy and Hombakazi Vintage Cabin.

source: punkandivy.com

Punk & Ivy Style Boutique is Africa’s first Mobile Boutique – run by duo, Bianca and Khaya Sibiya who also happen to be husband-and-wife. The couple specializes in custom made garments and collaborates with various brands. One of their biggest collaborations to date was the #LegitDontConform with Legit (under Edcon) of 2015, with which they created a collection and sold it in part through their mobile store. The motique trades across Johannesburg and other major big SA cities.


With over 74,000 followers on Facebook and just above 30k on Instagram, the demand for Hombakazi Vintage Cabin vintage pieces grows by the day. Founded by PE based stylist and fashion buyer, Mbukwashe Zwide, HVC clothing is sourced from a wide range of suppliers and revives past fashion trends whilst adding a modern touch. The HVC team travels and hosts pop up stores around major South African cities to bring its customers the best selection of vintage pieces.

Pop Ups, with there not being as strict rules as brick and mortar stores, creates further present opportunities for creatives in various fields to join forces and cultivate spaces – to uplift each other as young entrepreneurs and feed of each other’s energy to bring something that consumers can buy into.


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