Why Luxury Labels Are Embracing Pop-Up Shops

The Shops at Columbus Circle is experimenting with infrastructure designed for long-term pop-up installations — and the likes of Moleskine and Hermès are on board.

Think pop-up shops are just for indie boutiques and e-tail startups? Think again: The Shops at Columbus Circle has created the Luxury Merchandising Unit (LMU), a permanent retail pop-up installation that allows various upscale brands to more easily display merchandise in “intimate, small… retail spaces” — and a variety of upscale retailers have already signed on.

The first of these “mini-stores” will appear at The Shops at Columbus Circle by the end of September, and the retail tenants are Moleskine, Sugarfina, and La Maison du Chocolat. Past tenants that have displayed their wares in what is now branded as the LMU include Hermès and Tesla.

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“When positioned correctly, an LMU captures a retail center’s natural traffic flow and channels it through curated displays,” the company said in a statement. “The unit’s flexible wall configurations allow merchandise from clothing to handbags to fine foods to be displayed in a variety of manners.”

The Pop-Up Appeal

Pop-up shops have been around for a while, but a key tenet of their larger success today is this: They combine the ability to offer goods and services in a physical space with the desire to keep the retail footprint small and overhead costs down — a must in an era where brands must manage both physical and digital presences equally and interchangeably.

As such, this type of store is a popular way for online businesses to make the transition from “clicks-to-bricks” — like AdoreMe — or for more established brands to test out the profitability of opening more retail stores. But now, with the introduction of these Luxury Merchandising Units, they are a vehicle for established brick-and-mortar brands to create an interactive shopping experience — whether or not they could afford to open another flagship in a location like Columbus Circle.

Plus, in addition to the digital to physical angle, pop-up installations simply allow for more flexibility in terms of changing displays or merchandise. “Retail centers don’t change the leases for their permanent stores that often, but the leases for LMUs provide landlords with more term flexibility,” said George Gottl and Oliver Michell, co-CEOs of UXUS, the design team behind the LMUs. “This… means visitors may be surprised with updates to merchandise mix.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.