By  on January 10, 2018

Have pop-up shops peaked?While the torrent of temporary stores shows no signs of abating — the format continues to be popular with a wide range of brands, from Gucci to Yankee Candle — there are signs of pop-up fatigue and doubts about the concept are seeping in after 20 years of proliferation.“The term pop-up has become so diluted, it’s almost irrelevant," said Mai Vu and Dimitri Koumbis, cofounders of Bishop Collective, a 2,700-square-foot temporary space in SoHo. "What’s important to us, is that we’re trying to create an experience. We took on a space with other brands and we’re trying to move away from a system where everything is a pop-up. Nothing has an edge anymore.”But Paco Underhill, founder of research and consulting firm Envirosell, believes the trend still has legs. "If sales were a 20th-century solution that got tired, pop-ups may be a 21st-century solution," he said. "Maybe there could be a designation in stores for seasonal displays. The pop-up could become a replacement for seasonal displays."

Long before the term pop-up shop became overused and abused — think sample sales with endless supplies of designer duds and vast Halloween emporiums — the platform was the domain of scrappy emerging brands lacking the funds for permanent digs, and burgeoning shopping-cum-entertainment experiences such as Ritual Expo in Los Angeles, a one-day mash-up of fashion, DJ culture, art and the web, that surfaced in 1998.

Like any form of real estate, pop-ups are subject to the laws of supply and demand. A glut of retail space as a result of  2017's retail bankruptcies and store closures, along with a dearth of new openings, has made some landlords more amenable to temporary concepts and spawned a cottage industry of technology-driven, short-term real estate aggregators."The reason we’re seeing more pop-ups is because that’s what the consumer is demanding," said Yashar Nejati, cofounder and chief executive officer of Thisopenspace, which connects entrepreneurs with short-term retail space. "They’re really shopping at these temporary stores. We grew 300 percent year-over-year in New York in 2017. I don’t see that slowing down."

The surprise of coming upon a retailer in an obscure location or finding a little-known brand occupying a prime piece of real estate has always been part of pop-up shops' appeal. Limited-edition collections and the evanescent nature of the format communicate a sense of urgency to consumers: buy now — or risk everything selling out.

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