Gone are the days of static window displays and archaic shop spaces. Temporary pop-up stores – short-term retail spaces that exist for a short period, then move elsewhere – are rearing their heads in diverse locations across the city in an effort to shake up Dubai’s shopping scene. Mobile, portable and accessible, they offer consumers a unique retail experience and a novel way to interact with little-known brands. Taking their cue from flash retail shops in renowned global style hubs such as New York and London, three locally-based pop-up labels are gradually raising the bar (or rack).
‘The trick is to find a new and exciting way to deliver your message and product,’ says Brit Sian Rowlands, a long-term Dubai expat and founder of local pop-up store My Ex Wardrobe. Specialising in pre-loved designer and high-street wear, My Ex Wardrobe has sprouted in diverse Dubai locations, from Rivington Bar & Grill and The Ivy to Dubai Marina Yacht Club. Rowlands says it’s the degree of mobility that makes it so appealing to both owners and consumers. ‘The main point of pop-up shops is that they are temporary and can be easily set up, packed down and moved around,’ she adds. ‘Their sheer nature means they are ever-changing, ever-moving and always dynamic.’
But it’s not just the concept itself that should keep shoppers on their toes. Pop-up stores sell unique, hard-to-find labels and products. ‘The great thing about pop-up shops is that they give small brands the chance to engage with the public.’
Deborah Henning, owner of Dubai pop-up store Shoreditch Muse, adds that it’s also an ideal way for small businesses to get their foot in the door. ‘Pop-up stores expose local and international talent,’ she says. Her brand sells one-off accessories including concrete rings, resin earrings and acrylic-dipped rope. It currently has a post in Make Business Hub. ‘With normal retail space, you have to rent it each month, usually by the square foot, as well as paying for staffing and bills. This way we get to rent a space without huge overheads. It’s an agreement that is beneficial to both parties,’ says Henning.
Nisha Varman Shetty, Dubai-based Singaporean owner of home decor brand The Urban Yogi, believes that pop-up stores are also a solid way of getting feedback. ‘A lot of retail entrepreneurs get turned off by high overheads. The brand has had pop-up stints at both Mercato Mall and Dubai Marina Mall. ‘It’s a way to test the market before investing.’
My Ex Wardrobe will pop up at Rivington Grill on Wednesday May 8. For confirmed times and info, see www.myexwardrobe.com. Shoreditch Muse was, at the time of going to press, on display at Make Business Hub, Dubai Marina (04 392 9216). The Urban Yogi is currently running a pop-up at Mercato Mall (055 222 2078).