THE LIFE CYCLE OF A HOLIDAY POP-UP STORE
The pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales, with 61 percent of consumers listing seasonal products as the primary reason to shop at a pop-up store, according to a PopUp Republic poll. But whether they’re open for a day, a month, or the holiday season, a successful pop-up takes careful planning year-round.
Ever wonder what happens to your favorite holiday pop-up store once the New Year hits? Mystery solved. We caught up with Howard Frank, CEO of Everything Christmas, which popped-up in Kimco’s Corona Hills Plaza, North Massapequa S.C., and Airport Plaza, to find out how the business prepares for the busiest time of year in retail and what takes place during its off-season.
Tell us about Everything Christmas. How did the idea come to be?
Howard Frank: Everything Christmas is a seasonal holiday pop-up shop similar to the Halloween pop-up stores. My wife Pam and I were in the discount store business. Because of increased expenses like rent, labor, and cost of goods, it was hard to make a profit for the entire year. The business was only profitable during the holiday season and we ended up closing the store.
After seeing the increase in Halloween stores on Long Island, I said to my wife, "Why not a Christmas store?" This is our eighth season in business.
What kinds of products do you sell?
Frank: We sell a full line of Christmas gift bags, lights, decorations, lighted window sculptures, ornaments, wrapping paper, Christmas cookies and chocolate, artificial trees and wreaths, novelty gifts, outdoor decorations, Christmas hats and stockings, toys, and more.
How many locations are there?
Frank: This year we had seven locations – four were my own stores and we had two franchises on Long Island and one in California.
How do you find stores to occupy during the holiday season?
Frank: I contact the specialty leasing department* of the nation’s biggest real estate companies. I find it easier to work with companies that have specialty leasing departments because they understand my needs and are looking to generate additional revenue by filling open space. I also do a lot of the research myself online and by driving around looking for suitable locations.
Is there a criteria you look for when choosing a location?
Frank: Affordable rent, good parking, and high-traffic centers. We have opened stores as small as 2,500 square feet and as large as 30,000 square feet. In larger stores, we don't use the entire space. We put up temporary curtains to cut the square footage down.
How long are you in operation during the holiday?
Frank: We like to start setting up November 1 but often, we follow Halloween stores and have to wait until the middle of November when they vacate. As long as we can open a store a week before Black Friday, however, we can make any space work. After Christmas we run a 50 percent off sale to clear out inventory and we also carry a full New Year's Eve line of products including party kits, hats, noise makers, paper goods, glasses, and horns.
How do you promote your stores locally?
Frank: We advertise locally in small community papers like South Bay and the Pennysaver/TownCrier and have a group co-op ad in Long Island's largest newspaper, Newsday. We also promote on social media.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of having a holiday pop-up shop?
Frank: Everything Christmas allows the owner-operator to mitigate their risk and decrease the cost of operations during slow off-season months.
Can you walk us through what the business looks like during the off-season?
Frank: We are closed from January to November. I am in the process of developing an online retail website.
When will you begin preparation for the 2016 holiday season?
Frank: We start in February. We attend trade shows for new merchandise throughout the year and real estate trade shows to discuss opportunities for the coming season. In addition, we visit a lot of our vendor showrooms to place orders for the following season.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Frank: My wife and I enjoy the business. She loves decorating the stores for the holidays and I am very excited to be working with a national franchise consultant to franchise my business.
Did you operate or shop at a holiday pop-up store this season? Tell us about it in the comments below.
*Here at Kimco, we have a department dedicated to specialty leasing. For more information, contact one of our specialty leasing professionals.
This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.