Taking a risk on location can pay big dividends for pop-up stores

One of the contacts I have made from the last two weeks of blogs on pop-up stores is Simon Hanlon, founder of specialist short-term lease agency airspaced. 

The business was set up to cater for landlords with unusual properties, or a need for only short-term leasing, and tenants looking for “unusual” properties or short-term leases. It’s not the only one, with even Westfield having a site dedicated for short-term leasing to cater for the pop-up boom.

Airspaced is new, but since its launch in May the site now has 250 listings throughout Melbourne and Sydney. Many are “unusual” spaces. Although the obvious benefits to pop-up retailers are evident, it appears these new tenants who struggle to access short-term space have welcomed the marketplace-style site.

Landlords willing to meet the call for flexible offerings are being rewarded for trying short leases, with some tenancies often turning into long-term propositions.

However, it’s the “unusual” things that often slow the rental of certain properties, as anything away from mainstream is deemed to be a risky venture. Truth to tell, not many of us are good at risk-taking. If it’s our own money, we want comfort that we won’t lose our capital, and we increase that chance if we make a risky, out of the ordinary decisions. 

If we’re paid to make decisions, we don’t want to get it wrong and lose our salary income – our job. It’s best just to stick with a 200sqm rectangular box of glass, concrete and gyprock on a three-plus-three year lease in a mall. Isn’t it?

That’s why it’s always refreshing, and comforting, to see unusual spaces or ideas converted into successful retail ventures.

There is a tiny, 3m by 2m convenience store built into one side of the public toilet block in Queenstown, New Zealand near the steamship wharf.

I spoke with a young Parisian designer who had worked on a successful fashion clothing and deli cafe store in Paris, an unusual example of category creep.

I dropped into an oasis of a coffee shop and café in Maitland that’s built into the regional information centre.

Numerous old water treatment stations, telephone exchanges, grain silos and huge lumbering protected factories have been converted over time by bold landlords and bolder retailers. The old Balmain (White Bay) Power Station in Sydney and the old Murrumbidgee Flour Mill in Wagga Wagga would make unique destination retail spaces if developed.

So, back to airspaced.com.au. If you are looking at a pop-up before Christmas, and need space, have a look at their site. And risks? Well if major retail brands like Westfield and Dymocks are involved, it’s probably less risky than ever before.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific Holdings chairman Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores.



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