Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Pop-up shop concept will outlive downturn

Along with quantitative easing, recessionista and Grexit, 'pop-up shop' has entered common usage because of the dire economic circumstances we are in.

Pop-up shops have been hailed as a solution to the unsightly scourge of vacant shops on our streets, with Belfast successes including a Benetton pop-up shop on Castle Lane, trendy restaurant Home on Callender Street - now, ironically, in permanent premises - and the temporary Linenhall Library shop on Fountain Street.

They are or were located in the former premises of retailers or restaurants which shut down as a result of the downturn. As revealed on these pages yesterday, motorcycle accessories retailer Hein Gericke, which has stores in Belfast and Newry, has gone into administration - though the administrators stress that there are no plans to shut any shops.

Now two other parts of Belfast are to see pop-ups in their neighbourhood.

The model is being adopted by Queen's and academic publishers Blackwell's to fill the gap left by the closure of the Queen's University Bookshop.

According to the Bookseller, a cashless system will provide books in a 'connect site' on campus for several weeks every year.

The bookshop closed down in June last year, blaming increasing competition for the student market from the internet.

West Belfast is also embracing the pop-up concept and using it to tie in with a community festival.

West Belfast Partnerships Siopa Sealadach - the first time we've seen the phrase translated into another language - was launched this week by Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

The shop, which is on a main road, belongs to Springfield Charitable Association but is being taken over by the partnership until August 12 while Feile an Phobail takes place.

The partnership hopes the shop will present an opportunity for artists to test the market for their wares. Creative types taking part include milliner Grainne Maher and textile artist Caoimhe O'Prey.

The minister said: "The creative industries are a vibrant, emerging part of our economy, and Siopa Sealadach opens a window for our creative entrepreneurs and local talent.

"I encourage everyone from West Belfast and beyond to come along and have a look. Whether buying or browsing, this is an excellent opportunity to see these striking examples of jewellery, textile and visual art."

Pop-up shops are no doubt a useful means of papering over cracks on shopping thoroughfares.

While an unwelcome gap remains after a pop-up has served its time, it's the lesser of two evils to have a premises occupied, if only for a short time.

The pop-up model will live on, most likely beyond the present economic downturn, and may even be the internet's permanent legacy on the high street. The pop-up will stay.

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