This article lives at, and is re-published from: www.joelbookman.com
Adjacent to the Shoreditch High Street transit “tube station”, entrepreneur Roger Wade and developers Hammerson and Ballymore have taken the concept of pop-up stores to a level not seen before. On a recent trip to London’s Shoreditch community, I visited “BOXPARK,” advertised as the world’s first pop-up mall.
A 4.7-hectare former railway yard, unused for 40 years, is being redeveloped for housing, offices, retail, and startup businesses. Nestled under the train tracks is a series of retrofitted 40-foot dry cargo shipping containers, magically transformed into clean, modern, and attractive homes for retailers that can literally be moved and popped up anywhere.
Boxpark Shoreditch offers retailers a 300 square foot store, buildout expenses, event space, and a common e-commerce platform. National retailers are mixed with startups, with leases available for 1, 3, and 12 month terms (or longer). Some retailers (like Nike and North Face) are in it for the long haul, attracted by the transit line, expert marketing, and a trendy concept. Others, including some neighborhood restaurants, are “popping up” for several months at a time, using the proximity of the tube stop to increase their visibility and draw customers to their permanent stores a few blocks away. Still others are true startup operations, drawn by high commuter traffic, short-term leases, and extensive marketing support.
Boxpark is designed to be a public square and an “inspiring” experience. Here is what the developers say:
Boxpark isn’t intrusive or invasive. Wherever it pops up it fits in and contributes to the community. Boxpark aims to become part of the fabric of local life by adding colour, creativity and life of its own.
An outdoor event space is host to music, art, storytelling, plays, “Streetfood Saturdays”, and street performers. During my visit, dozens of shoppers watched the World Cup on a big screen television in a small plaza set up with lawn chairs. Tucked beneath the tracks, another space (not suitable for leasing) was set aside for kids to play soccer.
The design and marketing is outstanding. The support for tenants is exceptional. A digital marketing program promotes businesses. Integration with Facebook and Twitter spreads the news of sales and events. An online ordering platform and a mobile interface makes purchasing a breeze. Small, independent stores can access Boxpark’s “multichannel solutions” with few if any setup costs.
It’s a concept well worth watching.