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Pop in and shop

Divya Thakur of Design Temple has collaborated with Priya Paul of The Park Hotels for her pop-up stores

You’ve eaten at pop-up gourmet restaurants, so how about going on a shopping spree at a pop-up designer store? And they’re likely to… well…pop up (as it were) in your favourite art gallery, a warehouse, a mall or even a café.

For those living under a rock, pop-ups are temporary stores that throw their doors open from anywhere between a week and six months. And they pack up and leave as suddenly as they had sprung up. The stores retail anything — from the latest in designer wear to unusual home accessories.

Though they aren’t regular stores, everything else remains the same — which means that you’ll get your sale receipts and pay the applicable taxes. Pop-ups — temporary shops set up in different locations by existing brands or online stores — depend largely on word-of-mouth publicity, text messages on mobile phones and direct mails to existing clients. Sometimes pop-ups even preview collections that haven’t been launched even in their parent stores. And yes, often discounted racks are mandatory.

But why would you pick up clothes or accessories from a temporary store? “Pop-ups are time-bound and exclusive, which excites customers,” says Divya Thakur, creative director, Design Temple, Mumbai, which retails home accessories, lighting, tableware and clothes.

Adds designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh: “The limited time period of a pop-up fuels a lot of impulse buying.”

A fan of the concept, Ghosh organised a series of pop-ups across India in multi-brand stores between September 2010 and January 2011. In these snap stores that lasted no more than two weeks each, Ghosh showcased trousseau wear, shawls, t-shirts and accessories ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs1.5 lakh.

Pop-ups are important tools for brands to explore untapped markets. Pernia Qureshi, stylist and entrepreneur who retails creations of over 35 Indian designers like Masaba Gupta, Varun Bahl, Ritu Kumar and Sabyasachi Mukherjee from her website perniaspopupshop.com, says: “My pop-ups give people even in smaller cities and towns a chance to buy the latest Indian fashions.” Qureshi recently did a pop-up in a hall at the Park Plaza hotel in Ludhiana, and plans to take her pop-ups overseas.

Design Temple, meanwhile, has tied up with The Park Hotels to hold pop-ups which last between four and six months. Currently, two of its pop-ups are in action — one each in Bangalore and Chennai.

Similarly, south Mumbai-based Le Mill — which offers everything from furniture to textiles — organised one in May this year in Delhi.

Fab Connection pop-ups by Mandira Lamba (right ) are usually theme-based

Fab Connection, run by sisters-in-law Ridhi Bhalla and Mandira Lamba has had around 15 week-long, often theme-based, pop-ups in Delhi where collections of designers Anand Bhushan, Rimjhim Dadu and Shivan & Narresh were on sale. Says Bhalla: “At a recent pop-up of children’s clothes, a play area and a books corner kept the little ones busy.”

Juvalia & You, an online jewellery website, has had over 15 pop-ups in malls across Delhi since May 2012. Says Chaitanya Aggarwal, founder and CEO: “Pop-ups aim to establish a one-on-one relationship with customers and showcase our new collection.”

Clearly pop-ups are a win-win situ-ation. Adds Thakur: “For retailers it’s the perfect alternative to brick and mortar stores from an economic, logistical, and managerial view, especially in unexplored cities.”

Obataimu, a design house that offers clothes, furniture and luggage, adds an element of surprise and calls it ‘peep boxes’. Obataimu’s first peep box ran for six months in a 200sqft space behind Kala Ghoda Café in Colaba, Mumbai, just opposite its permanent studio. Conceived as a secret shop, customers had to check out the clues displayed on screens set up in the corridor to reach the peep box. Obataimu founder, Noorie Sadarangani’s, second peep box is still on at Volte Art Gallery, Mumbai, and she’s not telling how long this one will last. That’s the secret, and therefore a surprise.

So, the next time you step into a café or a gallery, it might just offer you the perfect chance to refurbish your wardrobe or your home.