A pop up business is just a temporary business. Different authors may add different qualifiers, but I like to keep things simple. A pop-up is a way to take advantage of fleeting opportunities, test whether an idea is workable and to learn from direct experience.
Pop-ups can be:
- Booths and stands at festivals
- Short-term stores for the holiday season
- Displays of items for sale inside another business
- Fireworks stands around holidays
- Vendors at the farmers market
- Sno-cone stands during the summer
Pop-ups may temporarily occupy a full-sized business space like a downtown building, may be located inside another business, or may be in a non-traditional space like a trailer or food truck.
An existing business might pop-up a temporary location, maybe even in another town, to serve a short-term need. For example, a restaurant could set up a temporary kitchen in a nearby town to cater to festival-goers.
In a small town, you might open a pop-up business for many reasons.
- The local customer base is limited, so the business is only needed during seasonal influx or only for a short time to sell to the local base before reaching saturation.
- Usable business space is limited, so creative forms are required.
- Existing buildings may require extensive rehab or remodeling, so testing an idea before investing large amounts is needed.
- Business financing may be more limited, so a smaller business may be all you could afford to finance yourself.
- The workforce is limited and may be seasonal, requiring the business to exist only while workers are available.
- Business intelligence on the potential market may be scarce, so running a temporary test will be the easiest way to find out what is feasible.
Running a temporary business gives the owner a chance to experiment, test the market and gain experience before making expensive investments.
Smart rural economic developers love pop-ups because they get more business ideas going with less investment in less time.
Here is an example of how pop-ups appeared in one small town during the holiday season.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.