Community Editorial Board: Popup Shopping

Members of our Community Editorial Board, a group of community residents engaged in and passionate about local issues, respond to the question: A pop-up garden market is approaching Boulder, and they join other businesses offering shopping, outdoor dining, and the season. Attracting clients in the post-pandemic phase. Take it?

my last shopping The experience in Boulder was bleak.

My children and I went to many stores in search of a birthday present, swimwear and some summer clothes. The shelves in every store we went to were partially empty. The sales staff were nowhere to be seen. The lighting was painfully bright, and the entire experience was empty and unsatisfactory.

Despite my willingness to spend our money locally, this shopping trip was a fiasco. We went home and ordered the things we wanted online.

This recent shopping experience makes me a big fan of the concept of more pop-up stores. In theory, pop-up markets seem to offer a unique and diverse selection of goods in a small, secure space, making recruitment easier and eliminating the need for massive restocking.

Of course.. the devil is in the details. If these pop-ups are simply talking about the same things that one can easily get online or on a quick trip to a retail store, they probably won’t work.

Likewise, prices should be competitive with other shopping options. Oftentimes, prices for pop-ups or farmers’ market seem to be high – call it a boutique tax. I would expect pop-up market prices to be more competitive than a retail store, since there are no overheads for a traditional brick-and-mortar operation.

Finally, for popups to work, they need an effective communication strategy and a visual site. From social media to traditional advertising, pop-up entrepreneurs need to spread the word of their presence (where they will be and when) to attract customers.

I’m not a shopper by nature, but like everyone I buy stuff. Buying things in person from people I can interact with in a temporary popup seems like a great alternative to the impersonal online experience or reality of the empty store I recently found in Boulder.

Rachel Walker, [email protected]


Despite the danger from COVID-19 Now less than the common flu, it seems, at least to some of us, that the fear of being indoors with lots of people just isn’t going to go away.

It is also likely that the allure of outdoor dining, and now outdoor shopping, will remain, too. In our generally friendly climate, what’s not to love?

The crux of the matter with pop-up stores is the land they use. Is it public or private? Did the landlord invite the pop-up store to the site? Does the store sit in public parking? As with most things, the devil is in the details.

Food carts, a kind of makeshift food store, have been around for decades. Some, like Salsa Verde standing near Rock & Resole, are semi-permanent. I wonder if they pay rent for this location…what stops them from parking another food truck right next to them?

Avoiding high rent is a strong incentive, but it probably wouldn’t be fair to park a free cell phone store on the street next to Montbell, Stio or Patagonia, which are stores that all pay big rent. If the parking is public, does the temporary store only pay the hourly rate? Is there a limit for the duration of parking there? Wouldn’t there be a queue of pop-up stores all waiting for their chance in the main parking areas? I would like a free and open market, but changing the rules in the middle of the lease isn’t right.

If the pop-up shop is invited by the landowner, everything is great and more power to these outside establishments. If they inhabit the commons, regulation may be needed, but perhaps we should wait until there is a problem before solving it.

Bill Wright, [email protected]


One of my favorite memories Living in New York City is an annual filling of the halls of Grand Central Station every holiday season with an enormous variety of “pop-up” stores. The items for sale cover the full range, from holiday items like decorations, wrapping paper, new gadgets and other products that can be giftable, to fine art (both old and new).

The increased number of shoppers added to the already dense, uncomfortable crowds on the train trying to commute between home and work give the whole scene a sense of festive and oddly vertiginous. But these kiosks should be economically beneficial to both pop-up and stand-alone stores, as they seem to be getting more filling every year (at least, before COVID-19).

Once they appear, they disappear, returning to the daily routine of New York life.

The temporary nature of these stalls, their owners and their goods, makes me wonder where all those people and their goods go between the wagons. New York, like any large metropolitan area, is a huge battleground of places and things, where people of all kinds mingle, acclimatize, buy, sell, trade, and generally make their lives wherever and whenever they find themselves.

Despite the insane costs of real estate, there is still affordable housing close enough to the action to make it worth the extra effort required to make a living and even raise a family. It is not easy for many, but it is possible in a much larger environment.

Pop-up stores in Boulder, like other cities, still require dedicated owners and interesting enough merchandise to succeed. Such stores can, at least temporarily, attract traffic and spending.

But it is not a panacea for economic ills, particularly in the context of an increasingly affluent and homogeneous city architecture where sellers cannot actually live.

So, sure, let’s experiment a little, but let’s not pretend there aren’t much bigger issues that we have to tackle.

Fintan Steel, [email protected]

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