Pop-up stores that stay

These stores no longer open and close within weeks; some stay open for up to six months

A modern grocery store (above). -- PHOTO: CRATEFUL
A modern grocery store (above). -- PHOTO: CRATEFUL
A retail experiment (above) featuring edgy fashion items and accessories. -- PHOTO: WORKSHOP ELEMENT
A collective (above) featuring clothing, accessories and trinkets by up to 50 Singapore designer. -- PHOTO: SHADY REPUBLIC
Supermama Mobile Gallery. -- PHOTO: SUPERMAMA
Hic Marketplace. -- PHOTO: HIC JUICE
BooksActually, which has a pop-up store in Millenia Walk, is focused on expanding its brand presence and wooing a new crowd. -- PHOTO: BOOKSACTUALLY

Pop-up shops are no longer blink-and-you-will-miss-it affairs held over one or two weekends.

At least eight establishments here have unveiled new ventures that last three to six months in prime locations and retail spaces.

These include five businesses in Millenia Walk alone: Local design outfit Supermama, bookstore BooksActually, multi-label boutique Nana & Bird, art gallery Art Assembly and holistic lifestyle store Hic Marketplace.

In town, local design collective Keepers set up shop last September in a purpose-built space in Orchard Green next to Singapore Visitors Centre.

It features more than 50 home-grown fashion brands such as jewellery line Carrie K and will run until Feb 15.

Over at 313@somerset, multi-label fashion retailer Workshop Element carries 19 local and regional fashion brands in a temporary store that sprang up in July last year and will remain open until at least Feb 28.

Meanwhile, online purveyor of made-in- Singapore produce Crateful has set up shop in a design studio in trendy Tiong Bahru since last September.

Sinking their roots in a retail spot for a slightly longer period makes good business sense, say the owners.

Designer Alfie Leong, 44, founder of Workshop Element, says staying put for a longer period gives customers more time to check out a business and helps vendors "understand market sentiments a little better".

"Sometimes, a short pop-up might not be a fair gauge of the brand's performance. You need time for these things," he adds.

This is Workshop Element's third incarnation as a semi-permanent pop-up. Previous stints were in Wisma Atria and Westgate Mall, and lasted five to nine months.

Mr Leong declines to reveal sales figures but says "sales have been satisfactory" at 313@somerset, partly due to the festive period. He plans to open a new permanent store this year that builds on the shop-in-shop concept of Workshop Element.

Cold-pressed juice company Hic Juice, which runs a permanent retail outlet in Boon Tat Street, also sees value in operating a guerilla store.

The home-grown outfit has been taking part in weekend pop-ups such as Public Garden which is held in various venues since it started in late 2013.

Hic Marketplace, its new six-month- long pop-up shop in Millenia Walk which opened on Monday, sells an array of health-centric products such as organic snacks and athletic wear.

Having a dedicated space over a longer period, as opposed to setting up a stand amid a sea of other vendors in a weekend flea market, allows the company to better "express and showcase its brand and beliefs to consumers", says Ms Lihui Li, 32, Hic Juice's founder or "chief juice solicitor".

While younger companies aim to test the market with pop-up shops, more established brands such as BooksActually and Supermama are more focused on expanding their brand presence and wooing a new crowd.

For instance, BooksActually, whose flagship store is in Tiong Bahru's Yong Siak Street, is drawing the office and expatriate crowd with its six-month pop-up store in Millenia Walk that started last August, says founder Kenny Leck, 37.

Its main store in Tiong Bahru sees mainly younger customers in their late teens to late 20s.

Civil servant Sharon Cheong, 35, is thrilled about the location of BooksActually's pop-up, which is near her office.

Says the avid reader: "I can just drop by during lunchtime and pick up some books."

New crowds and locations also allow operators to experiment with new retail strategies.

For example, Keepers will host an interactive visual installation next week, titled Karaoke Party.

A tiered stack of television sets will play karaoke videos featuring models wearing clothes from local labels - two of which are stocked at Keepers - set to music by local singers.

The public can listen to the songs via headphones and sing along.

At Supermama's Mobile Gallery in Millenia Walk, a Donald Duck kiddy ride spray-painted fluorescent green greets shoppers at the storefront, and colourful modern-day Japanese tabi split-toe socks and children's storybooks can be found on the shelves.

These aim to catch the eye of passers-by in Millenia Walk, who tend to stay in the shop for about five minutes, says Supermama founder Edwin Low, 35.

In contrast, the goods at its flagship store in Queen Street, located within SAM at 8Q near the Waterloo Street arts belt, sport more muted colours, as the shoppers there tend to be art and design enthusiasts who do not need a special reason to drop in.

The rise of these semi-permanent shops presents a win-win situation for both the vendors and venue owners. Though all decline to reveal figures, Life! understands that the businesses enjoy preferential rental rates and are not locked into a multiple-year lease.

Venue owners gain from utilising vacant spaces and attracting new target markets in the form of the brands' loyal supporters.

The short-term leases are a boon for Millenia Walk, which is going through a major revamp that will see 50 new shops opening in the next few months.

"We have taken this opportunity to try to nurture creative and interesting new enterprises and entrepreneurs by offering them short-term leases during this period of change," says Mr Tan Boon Tuck, the mall's senior vice-president of marketing and retail.

The strategy seems to be paying off.

Millenia Walk is open to converting some of these pop-ups into long-term retailers.

BooksActually's pop-up has already broke even and Crateful has extended its lease until next month, beyond its original end date of December.

Keepers, too, is exploring the possibility of setting up a more permanent space.

Looks like what pops up will be staying up for a while longer.




What: Home-grown bookstore with a good selection of Singapore literature and vintage knick-knacks

When: Until Feb 8, 11am to 8pm daily

Where: 01-83

Prices: From $10 for a chapbook and $3 for a wooden spoon

Info: www.facebook.com/BooksActually


What: Health- centric store that sells cold-pressed juices, organic snacks and bodycare items

When: Until early July, 11am to 9pm daily

Where: 01-103

Prices: From $8 for a 250ml bottle of cold pressed juice and $6.50 for a packet of kale chips

Info: www.facebook.com/HICmarket place


What: An art gallery specialising in oil paintings and locally designed home accessories

When: Until end of March, 11am to 8pm (Monday to Friday), 10.30am to 8pm (Saturday and Sunday)

Where: 01-50

Prices: From $450 for a 80cm x 100cm painting

Info: www.facebook.com/a.assembly


What: Purveyor of locally designed home decor items and accessories inspired by Singapore culture and identity

When: Until end of March, 11am to 8pm daily

Where: 01-49

Prices: From $20 for a pair of tabi socks and $38 for a porcelain cup

Info: www.facebook.com/supermamasg


What: Multi-label boutique specialising in an eclectic range of accessories and fashion pieces

When: Until end of next month, 11.30am to 8.30pm daily

Where: 01-42

Prices: From $90 for a piece of Article 22 jewellery and $190 for an Aijek top

Info: www.facebook.com/nanaandbird



What: A collective featuring clothing, accessories and trinkets by up to 50 Singapore designers

When: Until Feb 15, 11am to 10pm daily. Interactive visual installation Karaoke Party is from Jan 17 to 25

Where: Orchard Green, at the junction of Cairnhill and Orchard roads

Prices: From $98 for a leather bracelet from jewellery label Carrie K. and $56 for a top from fashion label mu

Info: keepers.com.sg


What: A retail experiment featuring edgy fashion items and accessories by about 20 local and regional brands

When: Till Feb 28, 11am to 10pm daily

Where: 03-01/02 313@somerset

Prices: From $99 for a men's shirt by Coupe Cousu and $85 for a sterling silver pendant by Yuki Mitsuyasu

Info: www.facebook.com/Workshop. Element



What: A modern grocery store that stocks made-in-Singapore produce and nibbles

When: Until end of next month, 11am to 6pm dailyWhere: 1M Yong Siak Street

Prices: From $8.50 for a packet of nougat by 3 Bites Full and $4 for a 50g jar of pineapple jam from GSH Conserve

Info: www.facebook.com/crateful.com.sg

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