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The 16 Best Pop-Up Shop Ideas for 2021

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Whether you started a business online or in a brick-and-mortar location, pop-up shops are a great way to increase your brand awareness, gain customers, and drive sales. Although there’s been a move away from brick-and-mortar stores as ecommerce has grown, many brands are finding that customers still like to experience their products or services and buy in person. And, customers may even be more motivated to buy if they experience a product in store versus purchasing online.

Exploring pop-up shop ideas and setting up a location could be a great next step in giving your customers a unique experience and driving sales. Not sure where to start? We’ll cover several of the best pop-up shop ideas so you can find the one that’s right for your business.

What are pop-up shops and why are they important?

Pop-up shops are temporary locations that enable customers to interact with products they’re often not able to, often for brands that only sell online. They can also be extensions of existing physical stores, popping up as new locations in other areas, or providing different product experiences than usual, such as demos or curated selections. Pop-up shops are an example of experiential marketing, designed to draw more customers to your store and build brand awareness.

The importance of customer experience in pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are all centered on customer experience. Because one of the main points of a pop-up shop is to drive traffic that turns into sales, it’s important to consider what kind of interaction a customer wants to have with your product in a novel way.

Are customers looking for demos? Are they looking for exclusivity? Are they looking to have a sensory experience? Are they looking to access your product in an unusual location? Consider all of these factors, which will help steer you to the best pop-up shop idea for your business.

16 creative pop-up shop ideas

Once you’ve figured out what you think your customers will respond to and what you’re hoping to accomplish as a business with your pop-up store, it’s time to choose the best pop-up store idea for you. Hopefully, you’ll be excited to see that there are lots of options to pick from, or use as a jumping-off point to brainstorm your own.

1. Holiday shops

The holidays are obviously big for many retailers—sales jump, and consumers are very focused on not only spending, but also on finding the right gift for their recipients. You can consider launching a pop-up shop that’s timed to the holiday shopping season, potentially opening between Halloween and Thanksgiving, when people begin to gear up for gifting.

Think about giving your pop-up location a holiday theme, which may potentially motivate buyers to purchase as they get into the holiday spirit.

2. Interactive product demos

Many ecommerce businesses don’t have brick-and-mortar outlets that enable customers to touch, feel, try, or even smell products. This might make customers hesitant to pull the trigger on a purchase if they’re not entirely sure that they’re going to like it in person.

One of the best pop-up shop ideas is to create interactivity with your products, and even demonstrate them to customers. This can be especially important if your product has a slightly higher-than-average education component, which is easier to teach in person than online.

3. Sampling tents

For food, beverage, and other consumer-packaged goods, sampling pop-ups can be a huge boost. You can set up a pop-up station that enables customers to try your product and then purchase on-site. This can prompt not only confidence in your product, but even help spur impulse purchases, since customers will hopefully want more after they taste.

For a sampling station, you might want to consider a mobile pop-up, such as a cart or a truck, to reach more customers. (More on this below.) This will let you go to where the customers are, rather than having to wait for them to find you.

4. Themed selections

Pop-up shops are generally small, which means there’s an emphasis on curation. One pop-up shop idea to consider is curating a themed shop, where customers get a specific selection of products from your line that all have something in common.

This could be any number of things. For instance, if you set up your pop-up store in New York, you could have urban-themed merchandise. Or, maybe you’re a clothing company that wants to just focus on your T-shirt line. Curating your selection can help consumers see many products they identify with, instead of having to search for one they like. It could even drive sales when they see how your products relate to each other.

5. Special guests

Customers often love the opportunity to meet special guests in person. If you have brand ambassadors—celebrities, influencers, experts—invite them to exclusively appear at your pop-up shop. This can drive foot traffic, especially for fans who might not be in your normal demographic.

Here, make sure you take advantage of social media to let people know who is going to be there, and see if you can ask your guests to promote your content on their channels as well.

6. Competitions

Don’t underestimate the power of competitive spirit. If your product lends itself to competition, invite customers to face off against each other in front of a panel of judges, or even fellow shoppers.

For instance, maybe you have a food product—host a competition over who can use your product to make the best dish. Or maybe you have clothing, and you can create a competition over who can style one item the best. There are lots and lots of possibilities, so get creative here.

7. Vending machines

Your pop-up store doesn’t have to be within a tent or a traditional storefront. If you have a small product, consider popping up vending machines in high-traffic areas. Here, customers will instantly be able to get access to your product without having to wait for it to ship to them. It might even drive impulse purchasing. This could work for a number of different products: packaged food, makeup, books, and more.

8. In-store experts

Customers always like to learn from experts who can teach them how to get the most out of a product. Maybe you bring in an esthetician for mini spa treatments to demonstrate your skincare products. Maybe you have a personal stylist to help customers pick out clothes. Maybe you have a chef demonstrate how to use your spices. You can bring in outside experts, or utilize your own staff members if you have an expert on your team.

9. Discounts and bonuses

Some companies like to offer promotions to customers who visit their pop-up shop. For instance, you can offer limited sales on certain products, or a percentage or dollar figure off of certain purchases.

You can also consider giving away free products with a purchase that are only available at the pop-up shop. For instance, maybe you have a fragrance company. Customers who purchase a full-size bottle could get a free bonus of a travel size, too.

10. Mobile store

Pop-ups don’t just have to exist in stationary spaces. A mobile store is a great idea for many businesses that want to reach lots of different customers in different locations and neighborhoods. This could be a truck, van, bus, or a cart—whatever suits your business best.

And mobile stores aren’t just for food brands, like a food truck. You could set up a station to try products or experience them outside of the physical vehicle, too—which can help bring in additional passersby as well.

11. Customization

Another trendy pop-up shop idea is customization—enabling buyers to customize their products on-site. Maybe this means monogramming or picking special colorways. If customers usually have to wait to get their products personalized, being able to provide this service same-day could be an incentive to purchase.

12. Previews and early releases

A lot of brands build up anticipation for product launches. And you don’t have to be a major electronics company with a stage to get customers hyped for the next thing in your product line. Consider building a pop-up that enables customers to preview new products or styles that are coming (you might even find valuable feedback from customers as they interact with your new products, too).

Alternatively, your pop-up store might enable customers to get their hands on a new release faster than customers who are just shopping online.

13. Entertainment

Bring customers to your pop-up store with entertainment. Music, dancing, photo booths—anything that customers will find exciting (or Instagrammable), and want to go out of their way to attend. If you’re hosting a performance, create breaks between sessions so customers can spend time shopping around, too.

14. Exclusivity

Another pop-up shop idea is to create a product that’s only available at the pop-up. Maybe it’s a certain scent or colorway, a new design, or a limited edition of one of your products. This can drive customers, especially big fans of your brand, to show up to your pop-up to get their hands on a product that they otherwise couldn’t under normal circumstances.

15. Charitable donations

If you’re an ethical company, consider integrating giving into your pop-up shop. You can donate a percentage of the profits from your pop-up shop to a charity that aligns with your brand’s mission. For example, say you run a company that creates reusable products to avoid disposable plastic. You could take 10% of your profits from your pop-up and donate them to a cause that fights ocean pollution.

16. Behind-the-scenes look

Providing a behind-the-scenes look at your brand gives shoppers an exclusive experience. Consider hosting a pop-up store that shows how your product is created from start to finish. This isn’t for everyone, especially those who outsource their products. But for handmade goods, this could be an interesting approach.

The bottom line

Although many think of a pop-up shop as a tent or small location to sell products in person, there are actually many variations of pop-up stores—and some could fit your business or product better than others. Consider your resources and how your target audience would like to connect to your product before choosing the pop-up store idea to pursue. If you like several ideas on this list, you might even be able to combine them for the perfect experience.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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How to Start a Niche Foam Party Business: Kid’s Party

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Foam parties have become popular and are great fun. If you didn’t know what a foam party is, it is a party or event where participants have fun dancing amidst foam created by a machine. The machine creates bubbles of foams that envelop the place, creating a fun environment at the party. If you are a business person, then a foam party business is a great idea.

You can get a foam machine and use it to throw foam parties and make money from it – relatively affordably.

photo credit: Roaring Foam

Can you make money through foam parties?

Yes, you can make money if you have a foam machine. Parties are common, and party-goers get bored with the usual stuff. A foam party is an innovative way of partying. It allows participants to let go, dancing in joy amidst the foam. This kind of party would be popular, and you can make money by offering a different experience to participants.

Creating a niche market

When you want to make money from a business, you will find that there are many others with the same idea. You need to do something different so you can succeed. This is where finding a niche market helps. A niche market is a specific category to which you can cater. Kids Foam Party is such a niche market. While there are many businesses catering to foam parties in general, foam parties for kids is a niche idea. This is a business idea that can help you succeed and make money.

Planning your business

Now that you have found your niche, it is important to plan your business before you get started. The first thing is to be clear with what you are offering. You are offering a foam party, which is an event where there is a dance floor filled with suds. When this party is offered for kids, they will enjoy it the most. They would not only dance but play in the foam and have a great time in general.

Taking proper safety precautions like setting the depth of the foam and insisting on face coverings ensure there are no problems.

What do you need?

It is obvious that you need a foam machine if you plan to run foam parties. A foam machine is not too expensive. However, you need not buy one immediately. Since you are starting off with a new business, you can get a foam machine for rent. This is a cheaper option allowing you to rent a machine and use it whenever you need it. This will allow you to do a pilot run of your party business.

If the response is good and you start getting many events, then you can consider buying your own foam machine. This would work out better for you.

Kid having fun in foam
photo credit: Roaring Foam

Planning and executing foam parties for kids

With these basic concepts in mind, it is time you start planning your parties. Since you have chosen the niche of foam parties for kids, you need to explore different options. You can have foam parties to celebrate birthdays. There can even be parties for no reason but just to allow kids to have fun. Explore different themes for foam parties and plan the events.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind while planning and executing foam parties for kids:

  • You need to find a venue to host the foam party. The ideal location is outdoors, so the foam does not create a mess inside. When the weather does not permit, you need to find indoor venues with a fairly big hall to organize the event.
  • Apart from the machine, you need the foam solution to create foam. You need to have sufficient foam machine solution to last the entire party.
  • Safety is a very important issue in foam parties. This is all the more important when you are dealing with kids. You need to have a clear plan for ensuring safety in your foam party. Communicate the plan with your clients so they are assured of the safety arrangements.
  • If you are doing the party indoors, you need a tarp to cover the floor and walls. It is important to cover up all the electric and other outlets to avoid them being damaged.
  • Placing plastic furniture is better since it won’t get damaged due to bubbles.
  • Safety arrangements for the kids are very important. Wearing shoes is a must. You can insist on goggles or face coverings to prevent allergies from the suds. You need to take adequate precautions to prevent kids from skidding and falling during the party. There is always a risk of accidents at a foam party, and you need to do everything to prevent it.
  • Preferably, get a waiver from guests to protect against liabilities.

With all this planning, you are now ready to execute foam parties and make neat profits from them.

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What open source-based startups can learn from Confluent’s success story

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It’s common these days to launch an enterprise startup based on an open source project, often where one the founders was deeply involved in creating it. The beauty of this approach is that if the project begins to gain traction, you have the top of the sales funnel ready and waiting with potential customers when you move to commercialize your business.

In the past, this often meant providing help desk-style services for companies who appreciated what the open source software could do but wanted to have the so-called “throat to choke” if something went wrong. Another way that these companies have made money has been creating an on-prem version with certain enterprise features, particularly around scale or security, the kind of thing that large operations need as table stakes before using a particular product. Today, customers typically can install on-prem or in their cloud of choice.

“A key aspect of these kinds of technology-developer data products is they have to have a combination of bottom-up adoption and top-down SaaS, and you actually have to get both of those things working well to succeed.” Jay Kreps

In recent years, the model has shifted to building a SaaS product, where the startup builds a solution that handles all the back-end management and creates something that most companies can adopt without all of the fuss associated with installing yourself or trying to figure out how to use the raw open source.

One company that has flirted with these monetization approaches is Confluent, the streaming data company built on top of the open source Apache Kafka project. The founding team had helped build Kafka inside LinkedIn to move massive amounts of user data in real time. They open sourced the tool in 2011, and CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps helped launch the company in 2014.

It’s worth noting that Confluent raised $450 million as a private company with a final private valuation in April of $4.5 billion before going public in June. Today, it has a market cap of over $22 billion, not bad for less than six months as a public company.

Last month at TC Sessions: SaaS, I spoke to Kreps about how he built his open source business and the steps he took along the way to monetize his ideas. There’s certainly a lot of takeaways for open source-based startups launching today.

Going upmarket

Kreps said that when they launched the company in 2014, there were a bunch of enterprise-size companies already using the open source product, and they needed to figure out how to take the interest they had been seeing in Kafka and convert that into something that the fledgling startup could begin to make money on.

“There have been different paths for different companies in this space, and I think it’s actually very dependent on the type of product [as to] what makes sense. For us, one of the things we understood early on was that we would have to be wherever our customers had data,” Kreps said.

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5 Hobbies That Make Money and How To Get Started

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Money-making hobbies range from walking dogs to blogging to creating and selling homemade goods.

Read about these profitable hobbies, as well as what you can expect to make.

1. Driving

Enjoy cruising around town? Give others a ride and make money by becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. Uber drivers make an estimated $5 to $20 an hour, and Lyft drivers earn about $5 to $25 an hour, according to SideHusl.com, a review site for money-making platforms. Note that earnings depend in part on when, where and how often you drive.

To become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must be the minimum age to drive in your area. You must also meet specific requirements related to your driver’s license, insurance and vehicle. Learn about these exact requirements in our guide to becoming an Uber or Lyft driver.

If you enjoy driving but don’t want people in your car, look into becoming a full-service Instacart shopper, which involves shopping for and delivering groceries. Uber Eats and Amazon Flex also offer opportunities to deliver food and other products to homes. Each of these gigs has its own set of requirements, though, so do your research before signing up.

2. Caring for dogs

If your favorite hobbies involve belly rubs, smooches and long walks in the neighborhood, try Wag or Rover. These apps enable you to walk, dog-sit or board pups overnight for money.

Rover and Wag work in similar ways. They both require you to be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and meet other requirements. For both, you create a profile, set your own rates, and use the app to choose which gigs to take. (See our Rover vs. Wag comparison for more specific sign-up and payment information, as well as how the apps vary in the services they allow.)

On both apps, the amount you earn depends on what you charge, how much you receive in tips, and which types of services you provide. As you would guess, boarding typically pays more than walking a dog, for example. But both companies take a bite from your earnings. Rover charges a 20% service fee per booking, and Wag takes 40%.

3. Blogging

If you have a blog that gets decent traffic, try making money from it. Blogging for money can take a few forms. One way is to host ads on your blog through a service like Google AdSense, which is free. Here’s the gist, according to Google: If your website is approved, then you choose where on it you would like ads to appear. Then advertisers bid to place ads where you designated, with the winner’s ads appearing in that spot. (People make money on YouTube through the same service.)

You earn some money when a reader clicks on one of these ads — but determining exactly how much you’ll make is tricky. Explore our guide to Google AdSense to learn more about it.

You could also try writing sponsored content, meaning companies pay you to write about their products. Or, become an affiliate through the Amazon Associates program. That involves linking to an Amazon product from your content and earning a commission when one of your readers clicks through and buys that item. Learn more about how to make money on Amazon through your blog.

4. Posting to social media

Love posting to social media and building a following? On Instagram and TikTok, many users earn money through sponsored photos and videos. Say you regularly post about your at-home exercise regimen. You may agree to post about a retailer’s resistance bands or sweatpants in exchange for cash or free products. (Sponsorships and affiliate marketing are also ways to make money from podcasts, in case that’s one of your hobbies.)

Sponsors may reach out to you to set up this kind of arrangement; you could contact them; or, in some cases, you may consider working through a third-party agency.

The type of content you post, as well as your number of followers and their engagement, will likely impact sponsorship opportunities. Learn more about how to make money on Instagram or on TikTok.

5. Selling your wares

There’s a marketplace for just about everything. So if you’re skilled in a hobby, consider trying to profit from it. For example, if you create jewelry or have an eye for thrifting quality clothes, try selling those items at a local flea market or yard sale, or on a neighborhood website such as Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace.

Or look into an online market that could attract a wider range of buyers. Consider Etsy for crafts or Poshmark if you want to sell clothes online.

These websites charge fees that will cut into your profits. This guide to selling stuff online will help you think through the math and determine if your hobby can become a viable business.

What to consider before making money from your hobbies

Before taking any of the routes listed above, keep in mind that this work will likely affect your taxes. See our guide to self-employment taxes, which includes expenses you can deduct, and how to avoid penalties.

And as you aim to profit from your hobbies, consider whether you will continue to enjoy them through this new business lens. Let’s say knitting helps you relax. Will it continue to do so if you’re pricing, promoting and shipping your homemade wares through an online marketplace? And that blogging hobby: Will writing still be fun or cathartic if you’re occasionally throwing in a sponsored post?

It may be hard to answer these questions until you give the money-making approach a shot. But it’s worth reflecting on the potential trade-offs as you think about turning your hobby into a job.

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