This four-part series explores how the pop-up shop has revolutionized retail opportunities for small businesses. No longer faced with prohibitive overhead costs and long-term leases, entrepreneurs can test their concept in market — and the results have been incredibly successful. We sat down with six alumna of thisopenspace pop-ups to discuss their retail strategies, glean their wisdom, and talk shop about their individual companies. This is interview 3 of 4.
Lauren Clark and Lyndsey Chow first happened upon a pop-up shop in New York seven years ago, before the model became popular in Vancouver. It seemed the best way to bring their vintage retail concept to life: comprehensive seasonal collections of curated vintage clothing. After five years of pop-ups around Vancouver (eight in total), they realized the demand for their curated, upscale collection was there and they moved into their permanent Gastown space in October 2015.
Why did you start with a pop-up strategy?
There is no way we could have jumped in and opened a shop from a financial aspect in the very beginning; the pop-up strategy was the most tangible way for us to make a move in the right direction. As well, pop-ups really allowed us to go through the growing process of figuring out who we are and clarify our branding and overall strategy.
What was the process of finding your permanent home? What features were you looking for?
We had hosted our Spring 2015 pop-up in the same space so we’d had the unique opportunity to test run the space before signing a lease. Everything fell into place quite nicely (albeit with a lot of work) and the process was a positive one for us. We knew we wanted a space that had high walk-by traffic and would complement our brand’s aesthetic. Also, good energy. It had to feel good!
Did opening your own permanent space change your clientele?
No, we feel it created a space for our clientele to access us more easily. It’s also given us a space to expand and reach new clientele.
What’s the biggest challenge of being a business owner?
The choices you make each day will either move you forward or move you backward. It’s a necessity to continually evolve and not be stagnant, so that’s definitely a challenge, but also very rewarding. The biggest challenge is there is really no break.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young women looking to start their own company?
Connecting with other entrepreneurs is huge. Nothing beats the invaluable advice for someone who’s been there … Your biggest competition is yourself. Start writing down your own progress now and strive to grow from there and improve on your previous accomplishments! Don’t beat yourself up over what other people around you are doing.
Biggest mistake people make when vintage shopping?
Looking for a specific item. You need to go with an open mind and see what you find!
Three must-have items this season?
Culottes, slide-on mules, Herbivore Botanicals facial oils.
Any plans for future expansion?
Of course! We want to get settled into the new space first and then start tackling the next challenge. Hopefully we’ll be able to try out another pop-up down the road but this time in a different city.
Articles in this series: