Pop-up! Creative use of niche spaces #2

In 2011, I have posted an article with the same title. Together with another article Rent A Shelf and start up a collaborative pop-up shop, they were the most visited posts last year. In 2012, I’d like to look at the term Pop-up not only from the trendy retailing examples but also those improvisational, informal and temporary cases spotted in Taiwan.

////// case one ////// sharing shop spaces or occupying pedestrian area //////
In Taiwanese urban context, sharing spaces is actually triggered by many private shop renters who use the space to make extra profit. Imagine a retail shop owner who rents a space for 1000 euro/ month, and then share the shop space with other two sub-renters who pay 500 euro/ month each. In this way, they share the initial investment & risks, and could possibly attract more customers.

In Taipei: two food vendors share one storefront.

The idea to generate more income is so attractive that many shop renters even claim the pedestrian zone and rent them to other street food venders. In the picture below you can see: the shop owner has moved out to become the street vendor (where the red arrow is pointing), in order to rent the storefront to another shop. He even rents out the pedestrian zone to another street food vender.

You can see the shop owner occupies the left corner outside of the storefront, and another food vender rents the pedestrian zone in front of the shop.

Occupy the pedestrian zone.

In the picture above, you can see the owner of the convenient store (which opens 24 hours) has also rented the pedestrian zone to other vendors during the day.

The above mentioned examples actually get media attention only when they are being spotted as illegal business, and are considered as planning defect. Though on the other hand, they have created shared value by intensifying the use of the space.

////// case two ////// pop-up sales and temporary stores in vacant spaces ////////
Far before Pop-up has become a trend, there were already temporary shops filling up the vacant retail stores in the cities. This kind of pop-up stores, or temporary outlets were emerged out of an economic situation: in the time of bad economy, retailers could save money on interior decoration and quickly clear their stock; property owners could profit from short-term tenants rather than leaving the space vacant.

Picture source: urbanphoto.net, by K.Y. Cheng

One of Urbanphoto’s article, Temporary Stores Thrive as Others Fade, has looked at this kind of temporary shops in the context of Hong Kong:

“Since many retailers signed contracts at the top of the market one or two years ago, rents remain high and so does the potential for bankruptcy. When shops go out of business, landlords are faced with a few options: bide their time by keeping the space empty, slash rents, or play host to a temporary store that will help them cover costs until they find a new permanent tenant.”

////// case 3 ////// social selling and the collaborative shop //////
A recent article in The Pop-up city has mentioned Social Selling, predicting that it will become a growing trend in 2012. In Taiwan, social selling or in another word collaborative shop, has been always a reality. Just around the corner of my parents’ apartment in Taipei, I’ve spotted a tea shop (1m x 1m space) nested in a bike store.

For a start-up business, a small-, affordable- space at a prominent location is all that it needs. For many online business, renting a small space together with others as a show point or just popping up at various locations – seem to be more effective than occupying a big high-street storefront. It’s exciting to see this happening in world-wide cities – private initiatives and non-profit organizations are starting to share retail, working or restaurant spaces. By making the spaces more shareable for multiple, mixed or temporary use, the value of spaces can thus be intensified and multiplied.

In my next post, I’ll share some international cases where collaborative shops are created with more social or non-for-profit approaches.

Ending note: I’d like to thank Boundary Unlimited who has inspired me a lot about Asian informal urban development and brought my interest back to my own Taiwanese urban experience.

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One thought on “Pop-up! Creative use of niche spaces #2

  1. Pingback: Pop-up! Temporary use of niche spaces | Nest Project

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