What’s next after boxXshop 2013?

BoxXshop 2013 by onahazymorning.com

BIG THANKS to all the boxxshoppers, especially for those who helped to build it up and down!
I couldn’t imagine that boxxshop would happen again this year, until Eliane jumped out to help organizing the event. This year, all the boxes looked really beautiful and charming, and I hope you all had a good time meeting people besides selling.

Every year after the event, I always had lots of reflections. When boxxshop was first launched in 2011, this small scale, handmade xmas market was still quite unique, offering products that people can’t find in the normal markets (you can also watch this short video about our original idea). In shortly two years, ‘creative markets’ have become a hype and online shops were also fast growing stimulated by the online marketplaces, such as Etsy. With so many xmas markets popping up every year, what else can we offer to people then just selling products?

I think these days people don’t want to be ‘the consumers’ only. Facts show that more and more people are actively involving in the production process; it happened in the food industry as well as in the design industry. If I may fantasize about the next event, it would focus more on the ‘process of making’ rather than the ‘end product’. This is what interests me most in all my projects, to connect people back to the production process so we can together shape the future economy!!

And you? What is your say about boxxshop? Tell me more about your idea, or simply leave a comment here.

(Thank you On a Hazy Morning for your lovely photos!)

(Thank you Marieke van den Boogaard for your lovely iphone photos!)

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.

Rent A Shelf and start up a collaborative pop-up shop

In my previous post about space sharing, I’ve mentioned the idea of flexible ownerships of a shop space; for example, anyone can sell/ promote products on a shop’s wall. It is a growing retail store concept – instead of investing a shop space by one’s own, more and more artists, designers and start-up retailers are investing together and become ‘temporary co-owners’ of a shop. This new trend of Owning a Shop Together not only helps the small, start-up retailers to invest less, but also creates great product varieties for the customers.

Onedayshop in Amsterdam. image source: popupcity.net

For example, Onedayshop is a furnished ‘vacant’ retail space open for short-term (1 day – 1 week) lease. A recent post by Pop-up city says:
For customers this initiative is great to test a brand’s products and to find out whether it would be a good idea to rent a shop on their own. Like with exhibitions, the opening party is the best moment to sell creative products, as the artist’s own network is present at that moment.

Here I’d like to share with you three other interesting retailing stores around the world. They are not necessarily representative; but they have all tried to create marketplaces that effectively connect individual sellers & buyers together. These are emerging retail spaces that are collaboratively run by individual sellers / temporary shop owners.

1. Tokyo Pass The Baton Vintage Shop:

Shop space of Pass The Baton in Omotesando, Tokyo.

Launched with an opening party together with an online webshop, some say it’s the best second-hand store of the world with a statement:

The modern marketplace contains a vast diversity of commercial products…….creating something new is a wonderful thing, but taking good care of an object that is already there can be magical.
Pass on your personal culture.
It’s a new way of recycling.

At Pass The Baton, you’ll find Items for sale presented not only by images, but also by a brief profile of the seller. Beyond the flea markets, this is a marketplace both physical and online for buyers and sellers to exchange their ‘personal culture’.

2. Singapore CACTUS Farm:
This is a good business model of boxXshop – as I have mentioned many times in my previous posts – a concept that prevails many Asian cities including Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei. It’s slogan: ‘get a prime location for $5.00 a day!’

Cactus cubic shop in Singapore.

For young designers, Cactus Farm an affordable and fully serviced retail space in a shopping mall to showcase their ideas and products. Together with other temporary co-owners, you can rent a cubic space for a reasonable fee (and for a short time) to test the market of your product!

3. Muenster / Munich Rent-a-shelf:
I came across this article ‘Rent-a-shelf: a new way to sell and advertise – including yourself’ that tells the new trend of Rent-a-shelf in Germany which was spotted by Pop-up city (yes, again!). I’m sure that there are more examples of Rent-a-shelf around the world, since it’s a more spontaneous action and might not be properly documented. Anyway, what’s interesting in this article, is about a young man who withdrew from facebook and rented a shelf in a shop to advertise himself as an available single. Do check this article which contains some good thoughts and interviews about these space-sharing initiatives in Germany. As the article says:

A simple shelf in a small store is really all a person needs to advertise and sell their products and services…
If you have a shop and would like to generate more flows and curiosities, why not share your shelf and create a collaborative pop-up shelf shop?

My space is also Your space: Space Sharing

This morning I came across the blog collaborative consumption (manifested as ‘What’s mine is Yours’) then I have chatted with a friend about P2P sharing cars, and besides I’m busy with pop-up store by using available boxes at Lloyd Hotel.

We will borrow these boxes from Lloyd Hotel

These seem like random topics but they all shake up the way we think about ownerships.

Gradually, we are creating new values to exchange services or properties – besides money. These days, more and more new initiatives are enabling everyone to share available resources with the others, and turning My properties into Our properties: examples like share un-used cars (ex. LiftShare), share spare spaces at home (ex. AirBnB), share vacant desks in the office (ex. deskwanted) or simply share working space together (ex. The Hub).

New off-line marketplaces or on-line platforms are stimulating flexible ownerships, and creating new opportunities by sharing. One interesting reference is this infographic: the Collaborative Home, posted by FastCo Design, reporting all the spared things you can share from home:

image source: FastCo Design

This flexible ownership of properties, is one of the major inspirations behind the initiative of pop-up store boxXshop. This is also what Nest Project aims to do – mobilize individual makers of arts and crafts by connecting them to available spaces. There are plenty of spaces left vacant or available to share in our cities. With the current web technology and mobile phone applications, it’s possible to enable any individual to launch a pop-up store spontaneously. Imagine that a shop owner can tag a piece of sharable space, such as a piece of wall. So people who received this push notification can walk in this shop and say “hi I want to sell this, can I hang it on the wall??”

Further reading:
1. Pop-Up Coworking: A Way To Work Anywhere (with interesting photos), published by Shareable.
2. Home-Sharing Programs Offer Longer-Term Housing Solutions, published by Shareable.
3. I have started to collect some examples of marketplaces & platforms that enable individuals to connect their available sources (time, properties, services) to others that need them. Let me know if you know other interesting marketplaces & platforms. I’d like to keep collecting this information and share with you at Pinterest!