It’s here again—the time when there are suddenly little stores popping up everywhere. Custom clothing stores, costume shops, calendar kiosks and other retailers are already setting up shop for the holidays, set to hang around for several weeks or a few months, and then—poof—they’re gone.
And people love them. Halloween stores alone—the kings of the modern pop-up store era—are expected to take in a record $9.1 billion this season, according to the National Retail Federation. December’s gift-giving season could add at least another $8 billion to the mix, according to the Specialty Retail Report.
They’re popular with Sacramento-area consumers and downtown visitors, according to Emilie Cameron, director of public affairs for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.
“The experience broadens the traditional retail sector with seasonal products and temporary events that are appealing to a wide demographic,” Cameron said. “With Sacramento’s creative class growing, we're excited to see entrepreneurs testing the market downtown. The pop-up concept couldn’t be a better way to do that.”
Retail experts cite several reasons for the pop-up store’s appeal. According to temporary retail store locator Storefront, they’re less expensive to start up than a traditional brick and mortar store—up to 80 percent less. They provide a more-intimate locale, one where the retailer can get to know customers. And they’re a good testing ground for new products or to gauge consumer interest in a business.
DSP’s own pop-up shop (of a sort), the Downtown Sacramento Holiday Ice Rink at St. Rose of Lima Park—one of more than a dozen outdoor skating rinks in the Sacramento area set to open in November and operate through the winter—is expected to be another success in its 26th year, according to Cameron. It should get an even bigger boost from its proximity to Golden 1 Center and its myriad of new businesses.
“We think of the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink as a winter park,” Cameron said. “It provides the community a fun way to stay active during the colder months of the year in an unparalleled setting. Additionally, the ice rink is a community gathering place where friends and families can enjoy time together, build relationships and experience the magic of downtown during the holiday season.”
That optimism is shared by Iceland Ice Skating Rink, which starts its winter season Nov. 17. Iceland is not your traditional pop-up: Executive Director Terrie Kerth hopes the rink will one day return to a year-round skating locale if it ever rebuilds from the 2010 fire that all but destroyed the area landmark. But for now, its temporary retail status will suffice.
“I think many pop-ups provide fun and interesting places to experience new things,” Kerth said. “People are always looking for new and different things to do. Skating in the winter is certainly one of those experiences.”
Consumers may enjoy pop-ups, but more-traditional retailers aren’t entirely thrilled. The temporary stores’ presence can drive additional traffic to a locale, such as a shopping mall. But they can also place additional sales pressure on long-term tenants.
Arden Fair Mall, for example, has seen tax revenue drop about $600,000 over the past decade, according city of Sacramento data reported by the Sacramento Bee. This is in part from the inclusion of pop-up stores to fill vacant spots during the holidays, as well as consumers’ continued interest in online shopping, the city notes.
There is room for both, but it’s a delicate balance, according to Scott Slavensky, president and owner of Skatetown Roseville, the area’s only year-round ice skating rink.
“Having other people operate outdoor rinks benefits us because it exposes people to skating and possibly gets them interested in skating,” he said. “But it hurts us if they have a bad experience at one of those rinks. They might never want to skate again.”