Having launched her own PopUp book shop, Daisy White heard from many other StartUp entrepreneurs who wanted to do the same. She decided to take action in her own town of Horsham and open a shop that’s about to become a trading ground for small businesses looking to test sales on the High Street.
In 2013 I launched my own pop up independent bookshop – Daisy White’s Booktique. I started as a market stall and moved on to renting out pop up retail space on high streets and in galleries and community centres. I noticed a high percentage of customers, as well as coming to buy books, were asking about opening their own pop up shops.
I recommended Appear Here and We Are Pop Up but these people were often start up entrepreneurs, who found the logistics of a city pop up too expensive, and hence the idea for Pop Up Horsham was born – start up to stay up in local, small towns and more rural areas.
Job one: find a shop
To find a shop, I approached my local council, who have backed the project ever since. They have provided local authority knowledge and commercial retail insight along with a genuine enthusiasm for enhancing the already vibrant town centre.
From my Booktique pop ups I knew already that some landlords are hard to convince and there is an element of being in the right place at the right time, but local agents have been instrumental in approaching possible landlords in this project. There were four empty retail units in the town centre - two of them were exactly where I wanted to be, so negotiations commenced.
Working with landlords/agents who have never come into contact with the pop up culture is challenging, but once they understood that this is a genuine attempt to showcase home business on the high street, they have begun to suggest the project might work in other towns where they currently have vacant units!
A word of caution for anyone considering their own PopUp or creating one for others: do check out the area – you need high footfall and the right footfall for a new and young brand. A vacant unit that is a real bargain needs investigating. Which retail brands are nearby? Is there an upcoming development that will change footfall and take customers away from the area? Do you have contacts in the area to help promote your pop up? Social media is great but don’t rely on it to fill your shop ;-)
Open for Business
We open PopUp Horsham on May 1st and are currently keeping our applicant list under wraps ahead of the big day. I've been surprised by the amount of interest in the project, with nationwide applications, as well as local entrepreneurs. We do have an exciting mix, with an Australian homewares brand, Portuguese kid’s boutique clothing, fashion, art, and couple of amazing inventions! We will continue to take applications so please do register interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
The shop holds 7 small businesses per month. Each business pays £199 for the month. This includes the shop rental, utilities, rates, furniture, Wi-Fi and mobile payment system from PayPal. Businesses do need to have their own public liability insurance but we can guide them in the right direction on this. The idea is that the entrepreneurs work together on staffing, displays, merchandising etc. They will also receive mentoring, workshops, and expert speakers to guide them along the way. Our local media are also very supportive so there is an excellent publicity angle for the trading small businesses.
6 months of trading means we can give 42 entrepreneurs the chance to dip a toe in high street trading.
Local Council backs local business
Horsham District Council has been immensely forward thinking and supportive of this project. They are also keen to help develop the list of retail properties we will list for possible ‘stay up’ entrepreneurs, who find success with the shop share and look to take on a sole property, or share with another business partner. Horsham already has a high occupancy rate of its commercial premises, and the town boasts an excellent customer base for the thriving market, and other independent and mainstream shops, but Horsham District Council is looking to the future with this project.
My advice to anyone looking to start a PopUp movement in their own area is to approach your local council or just bang on doors of agents. I landed a 6 week pop up for the Booktique in a prime location in Guildford over the Christmas period, simply because I was constantly making phone calls/sending emails with pop up requests. Another tenant left suddenly and I was there to fill the gap.
Reassure potential landlord with a concise outline of how enabling PopUps will benefit them and any references or photographs you may have. Explain the staffing strategy, make an excellent presentation as to how your products benefit the local demographic and how you will draw customers - and confirm that you have insurance in place!
Daisy White is founder of PopUp Horsham