The Pop-Up World: Everything You Need to Know

The Pop-Up World: Everything You Need to Know

I presented this permanent jewelry business lesson live at PJX (Permanent Jewelry Expo in Las Vegas), sponsored by Sunstone Orion Micro Welders. I want to share this with all those who could not attend.

This video will teach you everything you need to know to plan and execute a successful Pop-Up event.  The material covers the different types of Pop-Ups, their pros and cons; how to negotiate rent and profit share, and other overhead to keep in mind; the necessary equipment and how to travel light; marketing strategies to increase bookings before the event; how to create sense of urgency and increase immediate sales during the pop-up; and how to grow your following for future pop-ups – solid lessons learned from successes and failures experienced by many pop-up vendors.

Pop-Up events are dear to my heart.  

Pop-up events and weekend craft market sales are dear to my heart – I started doing this during my undergrad and it helped pay for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I have continued doing this because they are fun, high impact and very lucrative, if done properly.

What we will cover today

  • We will talk about the different types of Pop-Ups,
    1. their pros and cons
    2. how to negotiate rent and profit share
    3. types of overhead to keep in mind
    4. the necessary equipment and how to travel light
    5. marketing strategies to increase bookings before the event
    6. how to create sense of urgency and increase immediate sales 
    7. how to grow your following for future pop-ups

Main kinds of pop-ups (and some of these overlap with the idea of mobile studios, which I cover another time): 

  • Inside existing brick and mortar boutique/salon
  • Craft markets and shows. Being one of the vendors at a craft markets/shows that are organized, have other vendors and reoccurring
  • Non-designated location and without show organizer – such as office tower lobby, banquet or school event

Existing Brick and Mortar Retail Location (boutique/salon) 

Established Boutique/Salon. This is where there is already established foot traffic at the location, they have existing clientele they can contact, there is already a setup and payment system

  • They want you there. Very easy to contact them right now – many want PJ but don’t know how to get it done, don’t want to invest, but want to bring traffic into their store/boutique/salon
  • Just reach out. You can reach them by simply walking into your local retailer, ones who do your mani-pedi
  • You can offer to do an income split50%-50%(40-60), or $20 per piece, (exception – solid gold).  You have to be careful if you are welding solid gold because the material is expensive.  
  • Possible record keeping – triplet slip receipt book. One of the ways is to get a triplet slip receipt book. A copy with your contact info preprinted (stamped) for your customer to keep, in case they need to contact you.  One goes to the store owner and you keep one.  You record the item and retail cost.  You then do the accounting at the end of the event, be it that you took the payment and you remit, or it went to the house and they remit to you. 

Store Pop-Up Pros:

  • No rental cost – split of income (less risky and you would just lose your time and nominal costs like parking)
  • Less worry about logistics – they have tables, chairs, electrical outlets
  • Low advertising cost to bring traffic in 
  • Established clientele (guaranteed traffic)
  • Advertisement for your location. This works even if you have your own boutique/location – it can drive business to your location from other geographical areas
  • You have instant helpers – other staff in the store/salon who is motivated to see you do well
  • They’re really happy to have you because it’s an event for them and added excuse to bring people in who will buy other products and services

Store Pop-Up Cons:

  • Dependent on their advertising.  You are dependent on how much work they put into advertising and promoting it.  Often stores and salons have their regular flow, and unless they put a great deal of effort into bringing in their people, it can be really dead
  • Less foot traffic than markets. Foot traffic inside a location is usually less than if it was a large craft market or festival event
  • Income split can be high rent. You have to split a very significant amount of the earnings for this (will talk a bit more about that)
  • Harder to get repeat clients. Unless there is a follow up date, or if you have a location, it’s really hard to get repeat clients

Recurring Organized Events (such as Craft Markets and Shows)

  • Weekend markets (craft market, farmer’s market, tourist area market), Shows, Festivals, Rodeo
  • There is an organizer.  Usually someone owns the brand, rents the large location and organizes who is where.
  • They advertise and promote. They do all the promotions, ads, they have their own social media and bring in the press

Market Pop-Up Pro:

  • Very high foot traffic
  • Low advertising cost to bring traffic in (that’s what you’re paying for)
  • People ready to spend. People who attend are usually ready and excited to spend money
  • Good income. Usually great income (30 yrs ago I was raising selling at craft market in downtown Toronto, I would pay $65 for a Saturday and $45 for Sundays.  My average profit was clearing $800 for the weekend). 
  • Frequent markets can help repeat business.  Many smaller markets are weekly or monthly and you can establish clientele for repeat business.  They also feel better that you will be there again if they have any problems.
  • Frequent = Steady Income.  Can bring a steady income stream
  • Can boost your boutique traffic. This works even if you have your own boutique/location – it can drive business to your location from other geographical areas

Market Pop-Up Cons:

  • Rent can be rather expensive – some are a few hundred dollars for the day, but others can be a thousand dollars, or several thousand dollars for a week long (many weekend craft markets have table rent for $300-$400, festival events are $1200 to $1600 for 3 days, One of a Kind craft market or large markets are in the $6000-$8000 range)
  • Need staff. You are responsible for staff and will need extra helper to keep eye on things and to handle the extra traffic
  • Long days. Can’t do short hours, like boutique pop-up (you have to have the stamina or competent help you can trust)
  • Weather dependent. Sometimes you’re exposed to the elements and it can also be weather dependent.  If it is a one or two day event and it gets rained out, you can’t make up for it another day, if it is infrequent.
  • Logistically more cumbersome – have to bring all furniture and equipment, and portable electrical supply
  • Possible poor location. Sometimes you get stuck in some corner of a large event space and it can be political – location, location.
  • Infrequent / Rare.  There aren’t that many of them (and the dates and times are less flexible).  The more frequent, usually less well attended because people figure they can go back any time.  
  • Not all markets are the same.  If they’re poorly promoted and mismanaged, you lose money and time because there is no traffic.

Non-Established Location and One-Off Pop-Ups

  • These could be special events such as weddings, engagements, showers, school fundraiser, party events and bat mitzvahs 
  • Mostly new people each time. The people attending these are likely not be the same ones for the next event, so you’re pioneering the clientele almost each time
  • Word of mouth is vital to create the next event
  • Parties – $/person.  You can negotiate a flat rate for the event based on the number of people attending.

One-Off Pop-Up Pros:

  • Fairly high foot traffic or guaranteed attendance
  • Can pre-negotiate profit. Your profit is usually pre-negotiated per person or flat rate, build in your costs.
  • No advertising cost.  There is no advertising cost if it is a private event.  For public events, low cost  social media would help.
  • Can boost your boutique traffic.This works even if you have your own boutique/location – it can drive business to your location from other geographical areas  
  • Willing to spend. Often people are more willing to spend when they know the opportunity isn’t going to be there any time soon
  • Flexible lifestyle. Suitable for a lifestyle that requires more flexibility.  This is a great side-hustle.

One-Off Pop-Up Cons:

  • New challenges each time.  It is one-off and the situation/location is new each time
  • Income stream is less regular or assured
  • Might not be prepared to spend. If people are not expecting to spend, they might not have the funds.  This would be the case if you show up at a location they don’t expect, like an office tower lobby.  
  • Hit or miss if not covered by the house. At private events, it can be a hit or miss unless it is advertised that you’ll be there or somehow the cost is covered by the house.  People sometimes go for the food and company and forget to budget for anything else.

Some creative ideas for non-traditional pop-ups:

  • Cruise Ship. if you are able to get yourself on board a cruise boat, negotiate an inexpensive rate so that everyone on board can get one free of charge – excellent.  The cruise ship can cover your cost and you get a vacation.  
  • Traveling Rodeo / Amusement Park.  It is highly lucrative, but also a lot of work.  You can sign on with the organizer and travel from city to city.  Or you can target every event organizer who comes to town.
  • Office tower lobby. Go to a large office tower, or a non-retail location, with a lot of foot traffic, and ask management to allow you to set up on some of their busiest days.  Designate a certain percentage of your income to be donated to a certain charity of your choice.  
  • Commemorate. In any of these – charms and connectors that can commemorate the event (year, location, name) will be key to high sales

Focus on Building Growth – at every interaction

Whatever you do, be it holding pop-up at salon/store, wedding event, school fundraiser… always have your eye on growing the business.  Spread your brand through word of mouth, and have them invite you to the event they’re planning.  

  • QR code on the table so they can post on social media as they wait and tag your SM
  • Create social media kit with lots of images – this is your portfolio for anyone who might be interested in having you be at their next event
  • Create a simple web page if you can
  • Have a menu of service offerings: post photos, some details, have detailed information that you can share with anyone who is interested or reaches out to you
  • Print it out on a separate set of business cards – “Planning an event?  Contact me if you are interested having Permanent Jewelry to make it special”

Click here to watch.