Ultimate Guide to Pop Up Shops

With more and more people online shopping and big name brands closing their doors, the traditional brick and mortar shopping experience seems to be declining.

While that may seem to be the case, it’s not entirely true.

The shopping experience has changed, not only due to the digital age, but changes in customer preference and the global economy.

Businesses are looking more into temporary storefronts called pop up shops.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll look into the growing trend of using pop up shops and what they mean for businesses and customers, including:

  • The history of pop up shops
  • The pop up shop trends
  • Examples of a pop up shop
  • How different industries can use them for their business
  • How shipping containers and pop up shops go together

Let’s get started!

The History of the Pop Up Shop


Let’s start off by answering a common question –

What exactly is a pop up shop?

A pop up shop is a temporary or short-term store that’s opened for a limited time. In many cases, this is done to market a store or product.

Pop up shops are usually done for:

  • Marketing a brand’s new product line
  • Promote an event
  • Brand experiences
  • Seasonal sales or retail
  • Bringing online items to a more physical location
  • Art displays or galleries

But where did the pop up shop come from?

The earliest example of a temporary retail shop can be traced back to Vienna in 1298. During December, Albrecht I allowed for citizens to hold a December Market or Krippenmarkt.

The market was designed to get visitors into the holiday spirit, offering delicious aromas and choirs.

Vienna December Market

The market has expanded to several different shops, covering various parts of Vienna every year. The markets usually open around November and continue through the New Year.

In 1997, media entrepreneur Patrick Courrielche came up with the ‘ultimate hipster mall’ which he called the Ritual Expo.

AT&T, Levi-Strauss, and Motorola were just some of the big name brands that were involved, liking the idea of the short-term experience for branding.

This is considered one of the first iterations of the modern pop up retail store.

After that, many big name companies began to use the concept of the pop up shops, including Target, Dr. Martens, and Song Airlines.

In 2004, fashion label Comme des Garcons took the idea of the pop up shop’s temporary stay to an entire year in the city of Berlin.

Comme des Garcons popularized the pop shop, premiering in unpredictable locations that weren’t near any other fashion hub or district.

Comme des Garcons

Pop Up Trends


Now that you know what a pop up shop is and how the concept came to be, let’s look at why a consumer or a business would be interested in one.


If a store is only going to be around for a limited time, why would consumers be interested in them?

According to Statista, 55% of consumers went to pop up shops for the unique or exclusive products or experiences, while 49% went for curiosity or entertainment.

Consumer Pop Up Reasons

Pop up stores are sometimes the first time that a shopper has interacted with a brand; this is common when online businesses decide to launch a product and share it offline.


Consumers like pop up shops for their uniqueness, exclusive offers and deals, and a more personalized experience by brands.

But how do businesses prosper from it?

The projected global retail sales market was set to grow to $27.7 trillion dollars in 2020, which is up from $24.8 trillion in 2018.

Despite the closing of many big name stores, 90% of worldwide retail sales is still done in a physical store.

The difference is that consumers want more personalized and omnichannel experiences. In 2017, 80% of shoppers did online research before buying in store.

Some shoppers tended to also check online while in a physical store.

82 percent phone stat

And social media was still the number one choice to get inspiration for online purchases.

The omnichannel experience is the change in how both businesses and customers interact with each other, making it easier for customers to find and purchase what they’re looking for.

This is where pop up shops can take the online business offline, introducing new customers to their products and giving current customers the ability to shop in a physical location.

80% of 600 retail organizations that did at least one pop up shop said it was a success, according to 2019 survey by the Department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina.

Other benefits for pop up shops include:

  • Creating in person connections
  • Drive awareness and buzz
  • Test new offline markets or selling

Pop up shops are great for both consumers and businesses! In our next section, we’ll look at a few examples of companies using pop up shops.

Examples of Pop Up Shops


We’ve looked at how the pop up shop came into existence and what the current trends are for both businesses using them and customers visiting them.

In this section, we’ll look at a few examples of pop shops from different companies and how they were used to attract their consumer base.

We’ve already mentioned the Christmas markets in Vienna, which cater to residents and tourists during the holiday season.

This concept is similar to various to other seasonal pop up shops that only appear during a holiday or season.

For example, Spirit Halloween stores usually open at the end of October, allowing customers to purchase costumes, candy, and decorations for Halloween.

Here are 3 examples of businesses using pop up shops.


The Taco Bell Hotel

The Bell Hotel and Resort was an inventive experience by Taco Bell, providing a hotel and resort in Palm Springs.

The hotel opened for a limited time in August 2019 and was immediately sold out before the official launch.

Guests were treated to popular Taco Bell menu items, as well as exclusive food and drinks served at the hotel and bar.

Here’s a video that gives you a look into the resort:


Busch Beer

Combining their charity efforts with a scavenger hunt, Busch Beer created a pop up shop bar that was hidden in a US national forest in July 2019.

Customers were given clues through Twitter to where the secret pop up shop was; for customers who found the bar, they were entered into a contest for free Busch Beer for life.

For every customer, Busch Beer then planted trees to help support the US National Forest Association. The bar also featured exclusive merchandise for those in attendance.

Busch Beer Twitter Post



We mentioned earlier that many online businesses benefit from having a physical presence to help attract customers and market their product.

ThirdLove sells a variety of undergarments and lingerie for women, featuring an interactive Fit Finder quiz to help women find their correct sizing.

In 2019, ThirdLove opened a pop up shop in New York during the summer and stayed open until the end of the year.

The company is strictly an online business but opening the pop up shop allowed them to target their customers offline, offering the same products and pricing as their online store.

Third Love Pop Up Shop

Industries Using Pop Up Shops


With the examples above, you can see that different industries can benefit from using pop up shops. From a fast food restaurant to women’s lingerie, pop up shops can be used by any business.

In the case of Taco Bell, they used the concept to create a unique traveling experience by building a hotel.

With ThirdLove, their pop up shop gave customers the chance to physically be in the store and choose different designs in person.

Pop up shops work tremendously well for the retail industry, but retail isn’t the only business that can use a pop up shop. Other industries include:

  • Food and dining
  • Music
  • Real estate
  • Home improvement
  • Art and design

Industries of all sizes can use pop up shops, bringing their customers a unique experience and exclusive merchandise and products.

And from the examples, pop up shops can be anything; that’s what makes them so unique!

Custom Pop Up Shipping Container

Pop up shops can be used for any type of temporary store front or event, it just depends on what your business is looking for.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we often get requests from businesses to create pop up shops. In the next section, we’ll look at how we do just that.

Shipping Containers to Pop Up Shops


We’ve previously written about how shipping containers can be used for a wide variety of things, in different industries.

Shipping containers are being used for restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, yes, even pop up shops.

We’ve helped many of our customers with customization and modification options to their projects. Our onsite fabrication plant and expert engineers can customize or modify any container.

We offer standard ISO steel shipping containers of 10-feet, 20-feet, and 40-feet, but we also offer other sizes to match the layout for your business needs.

Depending on how long you’ll need the pop up shop, you can either rent or buy the container.

In this guide, we took a deep dive into the popular trend of pop up shops. We looked at the history behind these temporary store fronts, why they’re so popular, and gave a few examples.

We then explored which business industries could use pop up shops and how shipping containers can be customized into the pop up shop you need.

If your business is interested in using shipping containers for your pop up shop or if you need a shipping storage container, give us a call today at 800.686.9114 or fill out the form below.