The Power of Pop-ups in Perth

Words by Natasha Bloomfield

Image credit: Montagecollective.blogspot.com.au

Pop-up stores in Perth are becoming an increasingly popular outlet for local creatives to reach a wider audience, sell their products, and promote their brand image. But from competition with mainstream retailers and overly accessible online shopping, what is it that makes pop-up stores attractive?

Over a decade on since the beginning of the whole phenomenon, the concept still involves opening a temporary store in one location for a varied amount of time, usually with a short-term lease and a lower rent than a permanent store. Pop-up stores in Perth operate with the aim of featuring local artists, often newcomers or those who prefer to test the water first before committing to a permanent space, and their handmade creations, including jewellery, fashion, stationery, and art. Popular spots around Perth include Montage Collective in Northbridge, the 140 Pop-Up Project on William Street, Common Ground and Spacemarket’s MANY 6160 in Fremantle.

Currently located on William Street, Montage Collective is fresh and inviting. The store allocates a section for each creative’s brand, ranging from Nicole Moffat’s Tall Rabbit print designs to Anna Hadwin’s crotchet toys. The “collective” concept is particularly fluid – the store features several local brands, therefore reducing the amount of spaces each would take up on its own, accounting for space availability and the fluctuations of the economy.

Arranging the intricate window display is Davina Farinola, owner of Fluid Ink Letterpress and one of the six core members currently running Montage Collective. Farinola began as a guest artist and now works once a week as part of the team. In contrast to mainstream stores, she says that the collective is focussed on being “locally-sourced, made in Perth, not mass-produced and not outsourced,” adding to the variety and niche gifts that the store is able to offer the savvy customer looking for “something a little bit different.”

Annie Rawle, owner of Osmosis designs, knows the pop-up scene well, having successfully secured eleven pop-up spots for the store since its inception in 2011.

She writes that there is “no magic trick to it really. We just keep our eyes and ears open for opportunities in the right area at the right price for the right length of time. Getting all three right is not always easy!” Further, Rawle states “I think they are getting a bit harder to find because there are more people looking for Pop-Up venues than when we started. A couple of our past regular venues have now been taken on a full lease, so we have lost those, but I’m sure we’ll find others. It can be hard to secure spaces because landlords need convincing that leasing out for short terms is worth their while.”

To those interested in joining the pop-up scene, Rawle suggests to “keep your eyes and ears open for venues and let everyone know you’re looking. Do some online research, plan and ask questions. Once you do secure a lease, you want to open the doors asap so preparation is essential. There is a lot of background work to do and you need a good team to work with.”

It would seem that pop-up stores and major retailers are not necessarily at odds, and are capable of working in a symbiotic partnership with each other; the need for foot traffic and sales is mutual, and agglomeration, of similar indepently owned local stores or well-established major retailers, still applies.

However, pop-up stores have, without a doubt, filled a niche in the market that other retailers haven’t. For customers, they’ve increased their chance to purchase local, exclusive products from one-off stores. For creatives, they have opened the door to customers who they might never have come into contact with in their studios, and created opportunities to promote their online stores in order to cater for the online shopper. For now, it would seem that even though the stores themselves are temporary, with the support and interest of customers, the concept itself will be permanent.