• The Ultimate Guide to Pop-up Shops

    This Ebook gives you all the basics you’ll need to think about when setting up your first Pop-Up shop. Read now or download for later.

  • Introduction

    Setting up a Pop-Up shop or event is a fantastic way for charities and new start-ups to use empty shops and units, build relationships with new supporters, as well as raise funds!

    This Ebook gives you all the basics you’ll need to think about when setting up your first Pop-Up shop. It takes you through finding a unit, stocking and marketing, and gives you ideas for how to measure your success. At Danells and Bewley we focus on supporting the charity and not-for-profit sector, but this guide will work equally well for any start-up or small business.

    Without the commitment of a long term lease, a Pop-Up shop lets you test the water of the charity retail market in your area. Or, if you have a cupboard of old fundraising merchandise you can use it to clear old stock, raise income and make room for a new range of products.


    It's also an exciting way to launch new campaigns or get your local community engaged in your work. A Pop-Up shop gives organisations an excellent opportunity to engage with new audiences as well as talking directly to supporters who you would normally communicate with on-line.

    Pop-Up shops can also have a positive impact on the local economy, bringing footfall and new audiences; ideal for tired and weary high streets looking to create interest or a ‘buzz’ in the local area.

    Whether you are looking to create a very specific Pop-Up shop, such as focussing on vintage clothes, children’s clothes and toys or simply want to clear your stockrooms of donations, you will find this Ultimate Guide invaluable in planning your event.

  • Contents

    Select the section you want to read more about or just scroll down to follow the guide.

  • Renting a Pop-up Shop

    Finding a shop unit or venue for your Pop-Up shop may seems daunting. However, with careful planning and by building relationships with shopping centre managers or local commercial estate agents you can take the first steps in getting your Pop-Up opened.

    Many local high streets and shopping centres are unfortunately still feeling the effect of austerity. A move to online shopping and huge out-of-town centres have left many high streets with a high void rate: shops left empty and looking uncared for.

    This means that a well thought-out proposal to set up a vibrant, community-based shop bringing people to the high street, even on a short term basis, will be welcomed.

    Get to know your local shopping centre managers or local commercial estate agents. They will be key in helping you liaise with property owners to secure a unit.


    When looking for a location you will want to think carefully about the logistics of getting shoppers to visit your shop;

    • Is it easy to find?
    • Will they be able to park and is the unit accessible?  
    • Will they be able to drop-off donations or pick up bulky purchases by car?
    • Is it accessible for disabled customers, particularly if they are your target audience?
    If the unit is off the beaten track, it still may work for you but you will have to ensure your marketing is really effective to let people know where you are and why they should visit you.

    Consider too how you will get your stock in and out, the storage for stock; is it up or down several flights of stairs? Is there good connectivity to run secure on-line payment systems?
    Once you have identified possible units, make sure that you have put together a clear vision of your Pop-Up shop and the benefits to the business community, before approaching centre managers, estate agents or landlords.

    How long will the shop run for and what will be its opening hours? You will need to make sure you have all the necessary insurance, public liability and health and safety policies in place.

    A well-presented case about how the event will have a positive impact on your charity’s work may enable you to secure the unit for free or at least at greatly reduced rates.

    If not, think carefully about your budget and consider any rent, rates and utilities you may have to pay for.
  • Running a Pop-Up Shop

    If you are fundraiser setting up an event, you will already know that much can be done with limited resources! That said, there are some basics that you must have in place before you open your shop doors. In this section we take you through these essentials.

    Rules and Regulations

    Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork to run the shop. Your organisation should have public liability cover, for instance. Take time to conduct a health and safety assessment. If you are serving food and drinks, do your staff and volunteers have the appropriate Food Hygiene certificates?

    Music creates ambience and atmosphere but you will need to apply for TheMusicLicence from the PPL PRS if you are playing music in your shop. This will also cover you for any live music if you invite local buskers or bands to play during your event.

    Stocking a Pop-up Charity Shop

    Every charity shop relies on donations, whether from individuals or local businesses donating surplus stock.

    You may want to consider and plan a campaign in the months running up to your shop opening to secure and manage donations; where will you store donations, where will they be dropped off and what kind of donations will you want for the shop. If you are storing donations away from the shop, consider how will you transport them once your shop opens.

    Charity shops are allowed to stock new items so you may buy in items to sell (but over 50% must be donated stock). Larger local retailers may donate surplus, out of season or ‘dead’ stock and be willing to support your cause in this way, especially if you can arrange to pick up items.


    Sorting stock takes time and is best done ahead of set up of the shop if possible. You may want to recruit a volunteer with retail background to spot higher value donations and to pull out items that you will not be able to sell.

    Once you have stock you will want to ensure that you have shop fittings to display your goods. If you are selling clothes and accessories, you will need robust and safe rails – volunteers may have domestic rails at home, but make sure the rails are strong enough to take heavy items, such as winter coats or long dresses.

    You may find that local retailers may also be able to help with old mannequins or fittings that they no longer want.


    To make sure your clothes stock is looking its best think about investing in a steamer to ‘spruce-up’ items before they go out on the shop floor. You will also need to price stock and pricing guns are a quick and easy way to do this.

    Aim to have all stock priced up before the shop opens and before it goes out on the shop floor. This is especially important if you are lucky enough to have lots of volunteers helping as it saves confusion and means there is consistency in your pricing.

    When planning your event consider the security of both your stock and staff or volunteers. There may be known shoplifters who are banned from other retail outlets in your area. Secure personal possessions (ensure there are no handbags behind the checkout) and keep the door to the back locked.

  • Creating the Shopping Experience

    At team D&B this is our favourite part of putting a Pop-Up shop together, but before you get excited, you will need to spend time on what you event objectives are: what is you shop about? What is it for and who do you want to reach?

    Once you have these basics, you can move on to designing the look and feel of the Pop-Up shopping experience. This is when you and your team can really let your creativity flow.

    With so many charity shops on the high street you will want to set your shop apart from the others.

    Let your imagination run riot to enable you to create that special shopping experience that makes you different from other charity shops!

    Is your Pop-Up shop going to be a ‘pile it high, get it gone’ shop OR a special shopping treat?


    Choosing a theme or genre of stocks helps focus your stock and 'look'.


    Merchandising is basically anything and everything you do to promote and sell your stock once your customers are in your Pop-Up shop. It is a skill and retailers employ specialists to increase sales and display goods to their best advantage. Shoppers are looking for a great customer experience and will still expect that in a charity or Pop-Up shop.

    With effective merchandising you will benefit from higher sales, faster turnover (you don’t want to be left with stock when the shop closes), more satisfied and loyal customers which is important if your Pop-Up shop is supporting an awareness raising campaign.

    With such a variety of donated stock it can be difficult for a Pop-Up charity shop to maintain a ‘theme’ or look but remember that many people love charity shops because they are looking for a hidden bargain!

    Looking for inspiration? Check out the charity shop visual merchandising page on FaceBook.

    Keep it Simple!

    The key is kept it simple, keep it bold!


    So think about:

    • An eye catching window display
    • A warm welcome, this could be a display area at the front of the store or your volunteers
    • In-store displays that will make customers stop & buy
    • Customer comfort – it is easy to get around your Pop-Up shop?
    • Signage and pricing
    • Rotating stock – don’t put all your best/high value items out at once
    • Keeping the shop clean and tidy
  • Marketing a Pop-up Shop

    Pop-Up shops are an excellent vehicle for raising awareness of your charity and building your profile within your local community.

    For an event to be a success you will need a strong, active marketing campaign that combines both traditional and digital media.

    Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce or Town Centre Manager to collaborate with other stores, especially if your event is part of a wider awareness campaign. If your unit is within a larger shopping centre would the management’s marketing and PR team help promote your opening? Other shops may want to support your charity or organisation by offering discount vouchers; – buy something from the Pop-Up and get a discount at their store.

    Why not ask a local celebrity, dignitary or ask service users to help open the shop? This will help secure more media interest and get more people interested in the event.

    Create Great Content

    Create great content and publish across all your digital platforms. Use a calendar to plan your content that includes a countdown to shop opening, featured donations or stock, or content around creating a stylish new look from charity shop bargains. Include content that also illustrates why the Pop-Up shop is so important to your charity, whether fundraising or for an awareness campaign.

    Use social media to create a buzz and once the Pop-Up shop opens, encourage customers to share their purchases on their own platforms.

    You may want to offer discount vouchers or codes on your social platforms to encourage footfall on specific days or times.

    Traditional Media

    Do not under-estimate traditional media, such as leaflet, posters or banners. If you are looking for an older customer base, then these will be a vital tool in reaching this demographic.

    Combine this with guerrilla marketing. Take your postcards, leaflets or even old fashion sandwich-boards out onto the street to get your Pop-Up noticed!

    If you want to engage with the print or broadcast media, then you will need to craft and send a Press Release. Make your press release clear and concise, and aim for a targeted message for each publication you approach, rather than a generic release.

    Word of Mouth

    Word of mouth is a very powerful and effective marketing tool. Get staff, volunteers, supporters and donors talking about how amazing you Pop-Up shop is going to be!

    You may want to organise a special ‘exclusive’ shopping event for them or invite them to be social media ambassadors, giving them exclusive content to share on their platforms.

  • Measuring Your Success

    How will you know if your Pop-Up Shop is successful?

    Of course you can measure the success of your Pop-Up shop by analysing sales by day and by type of sale or customer.

    However, although the event may be part of your income generation activities for your charity, the success of your shop may not be measured by sales alone.

    You will need to build in tools and techniques when planning, to enable you to reflect back on your original objectives after the shop closes. If you are hoping to engage with new supporters, how will you do this? Or if you want raise awareness of a specific campaign how will the Pop-Up shop be useful in doing this?


    You may want to think about measuring the following to help evaluate your achievements:

    • Footfall: by using a welcome volunteer with a click counter to monitor visitors to the shop you can keep track of the number of shoppers over specific times or days of opening 
    • Recruitment: your event will be a useful tool not only in recruiting new volunteers, but also engaging with new fundraising supporters. Use specific codes or data capture materials to monitor how many new supporters’ signed up in the pop up.
    • Social media: you should be monitoring this throughout your build-up, during and post event. By creating a special hashtag for your Pop-Up shop you will be able to monitor social media activity, reach and engagement. 
    • Surveys & questionnaires: you may want to collect feedback via a questionnaire in store or use data-capture cards to collect information to engage with visitors post event.
    Creating, setting up and running a Pop-Up can be incredibly rewarding and reap benefits that you never imaged or planned for.

    It will take hard work, time and a lot of dedication from staff, volunteers and anyone else you can rope in to help you! But creating an event that stands out on the high-street has benefits for not only your organisation but the wider community as a whole.

    It gives you the chance to engage with retailers, awareness raise with individuals, recruit volunteers and, of course, raise funds.
  • Useful Resources

    You will find a wealth of useful information of the Charity Retail Associate website.

    The Institute of Fundraising has a resources and guidance on all aspects of fundraising.

    Acopia offers free training in visual merchandising for charities.

    TheMusicLicence is available from http://www.pplprs.co.uk/


  • Download the eBook

    Download The Ultimate Guide to Pop-up Shops in a PDF format

  • A big thank you to CCPA & Amanda White Photography for use of the images in this Ultimate Guide.

    © 2018 Ilkley

    All rights reserved. No part of this Ebook may be reproduced or modified in any form, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Amanda Danells-Bewley.

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