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Entrepreneur’s top tips for Pop Up shops

Dan Thompson, outside his former

Dan Thompson, outside his former "Pop up" record shop in Warwick Street, Worthing, with his new book, Pop Up Business For Dummies

  • by Neill Barston
 

Encouraging new entrepreneurial ideas and community projects to blossom into fruition lies at the heart of the pop-up movement.

As Worthing-based artist Dan Thompson explains, it’s something that has actually been around for some time, but is now really capturing a broader public consciousness.

Far from being vague “arty nonsense”, as Dan puts it, he has seen first-hand exactly how much good can come of such initiatives, which are born out of thinking inventively in a tough economy.

From starting the UK’s first pop-up tourist information centre on Worthing seafront, through to transforming a disused carpet store into an inflatable bumper-car play area – which in turn became the headquarters of successful digital marketing company Fresh Egg.

It seems no project is too unusual, leading to some highly creative collaborations that are making headlines across the UK.

These projects and plenty of others besides have informed his approach to penning a new book on the subject – Pop Up Businesses for Dummies, which he hopes will inspire people to ignore recessionary pressures and take a risk on setting up some vibrant, dynamic businesses.

Having founded the Empty Shops Network, which has brought back into use a wide range of commercial buildings, Dan is a big believer in such (largely) short-term initiatives which allow businesses to experiment.

He has also played his part in some more longer-term ventures that have also emerged, such as reviving Brixton village market on a trial basis, which has become a huge success.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have the book out there now, which I wrote in 16 days, which was a great experience,” said Dan.

“People have realised that Pop-Ups are a great way to do business. They’re ideal if you want to test a new venture.

“They’re perfect if you run a home-based business or sell on the internet and want some extra exposure. They deliver magnificent results as part of a marketing or promotional campaign. And they help brands build real, lasting relationships with customers.

“The idea for this all started from a practical point of view in that we were looking for some arts exhibition space in around 2001 and we managed to get access to some empty shops, which was fantastic and it just started from there.

“The great thing about it for me, is that every pop-up scheme is different, from the bumper cars, through to one I’ve just done in Brighton, called Retail Ready People, in which young people spent a month in a shop for the screen printing T-shirt business.

“People still really love shopping – as much as anything it is about meeting up with family and friends and being within some nice shops.

“It’s that kind of atmosphere that’s missing in Worthing a 
bit.

“There’s some good work being done in Shoreham, with the regeneration of East Street, which feels like a place you’d like to spend time in.

“I’ve also enjoyed a pop up in Littlehampton in which we worked with Littlehampton Academy in which we got children to talk about what they liked about their area.”

 

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