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Purposeful Pop-Ups

28 November 2013 at 8:42 am
Staff Reporter
Communities and Not for Profit organisations are embracing the power of the “pop-up” experience incorporating it into long-term strategies of fundraising, awareness-raising, and community growth and renewal, writes Bec McHenry, the Director of PopUnion.

Staff Reporter | 28 November 2013 at 8:42 am


Purposeful Pop-Ups
28 November 2013 at 8:42 am

Communities and Not for Profit organisations are embracing the power of the “pop-up” experience incorporating it into long-term strategies of fundraising, awareness-raising, and community growth and renewal, writes Bec McHenry, the Director of PopUnion.

As citizens of an exciting, fast-paced, ever-changing world, we no longer leave the house to simply shop or eat, or meet and greet. Every time we walk out the door, we crave purpose, we seek out experiences, and we are drawn to destinations.

Playing directly into this state of being, pop-ups – or “temporary experiences” – are becoming increasingly pop-ular. From shops to cafes, galleries to cinemas, pop-ups are literally popping up everywhere. You could say the pop-abilities are endless – and clearly, so are the taglines…

Most importantly however, the power of pop up is no longer reserved for retailers or brands.

What began over a decade ago as a retail “trend” has transformed and matured to become a “trade” in its own right. As a result, pop-up should no longer be seen as merely a reaction to the Global Financial Crisis, but as an emerging industry in itself – one that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

This recently shift towards the “industrialisation” of pop up can be proven by the fact that countless professionals, businesses, brands, and even communities, are now choosing pop up as a permanent activation strategy – not just a short term fix.

For instance, online retailers such as Warby Parker have begun using pop up as a permanent alternative to traditional bricks-and-mortar retailing, activating incredible pop ups to the joy of their customers.

Likewise, property owners – including several on Bridge Road in Richmond – have begun permanently leasing their shops on a temporary basis to pop ups, thus creating permanent pop up spaces.

Communities and Not for Profit organisations are also embracing the power of pop up in more permanent ways, incorporating it into long term strategies of fundraising, awareness-raising, and community growth and renewal.

And just as pop-ups come in all shapes, styles and sizes, they all fulfil a variety of different purposes. Some use pop-up to increase brand exposure, others channel its energy to connect more meaningfully with their audience and enhance their customer experience. Some harness pop up to build anticipation in the lead up to a launch or event, and others rely on it to test new markets, or even revive old ones.Others use pop-up to fulfil a greater purpose in itself – to help those in need.

Crucially, this motivation is far from new. Charities and community groups have been popping up – in malls, at local markets, and sometimes literally on our doorstep – for decades – to raise money, awareness and membership.

One such NFP organisation who has fully embraced the power of pop-up is the YWCA – specifically, their team at Richmond House in Melbourne.

With Programs Coordinator Tamzin Benjamin at the helm, the women who live at YWCA’s Richmond House are busy preparing for their Kris Kringle Pop-Up Shop – a temporary shop that will sell hand-made arts, crafts and baked-goods, all produced by the women who reside there.

The YWCA is a community services organisation that works to create opportunities for women facing disadvantage through three program priority areas – housing, mentoring and community strengthening. Therefore, this pop-up shop is not just about filling the demand for heart-felt, low-cost, stocking fillers (although they do this very well) – there is much more to it than that.

The pop-up process itself has offered the women within Richmond House a chance to show off their skills, work together and create something truly special. According to Tamzin, it has really “boosted their confidence and allowed them to learn new skills from expert crafters”.

What’s more, all proceeds go directly back to the women, making it profitable on multiple fronts.

Notably, the original plan was for the women to personally profit from the items that they made – a very reasonable outcome, especially considering they bought all the materials to make the items themselves. However, Tamzin revealed that “they all came together and decided the profits should go to the YWCA Victoria’s WAND (Women Achieving New Directions) Program which supports women living in YWCA Victoria rooming houses to access pre-vocational and educational activities, recreational and social activities”.

A selfless act that just goes to prove the incredible impact the team at the YWCA is having on their residence.

Excitingly, the powerful effects of this pop-up are set to continue long beyond this Christmas, with the House’s annual plan being altered to ensure pop-ups play a permanent role in their WAND Programs.

“I would like to see the pop-up shops become a permanent part of our annual program at Richmond House. They provide our women with incredible opportunities to gain confidence and commercial experience. It also gives them the chance to meaningfully connect with each other, and with their community,” says Tamzin.

And they are not the only ones – SEW Tanzania is joining forces with The Social Studio and swimwear designer Zoe Elizabeth to host a Pop-Up Fair Trade Xmas Market at The Henley Club in Melbourne’s CBD.

This social enterprising trio are all about ethical production, creativity, and collaboration, so this pop-up market is the perfect fit. They are coming together to sell their wares and raise money for their causes – all in time for Christmas.

Importantly, what these activations have in common is a purpose, and this is a feature that should be prioritised by every pop-up – not just those being run for charitable reasons.

With hip-hop carollers welcoming guests into their Pop-Up Ethical Xmas Market, SEW Tanzania (and Co) are proving this without a doubt. What they are also doing is proving the permanent power of pop ups that have a purpose.

Find out about the YWCA’s pop-up shop here and the pop-up market at The Henley Club here.

About the author: Bec McHenry is the Director of PopUnion – an industry collective for all things pop-up – which offers processes to help establish a pop-up.


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