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Pop-up retail stores in Cape Town CBD

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17 Sep 2012

In line with global trends, the concept of instant retail or pop-up stores is proving to be a success for local business entrepreneurs in Cape Town.

Due to the success of their pop-up shops, Thessa Bos and Chantal Louw opened their first permanent shop, Fringe Arts, in January 2010. Picture taken by Damien Schumann.

Pop-ups occupy temporary spaces from just one day to a few months at a time, offering various products or services, such as clothing or home décor and artifacts. 

Rob Kane, chairperson of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) explains that it is no surprise that pop-up shops are taking off.

The novelty and freshness of the store attracts customers and at the same time, the format also allows businesses to test the waters and evaluate the appropriateness of a location.

“Pop-up shops are a great way for businesses to experience Cape Town’s CBD as a thriving, and affordable retail location,” says Kane.

Kane says the upside obviously extends to property owners and landlords, who, through the pop-up store, can temporarily fill their vacant retail spaces until they have formalised new leases for incoming tenants.

He says the benefits of having a property occupied are so much broader than just the rental income.

“A busy, occupied retail space attracts other potential tenants.”

Co-owners of the Fringe Arts, a local art store that has built their success on the pop-up shop concept, explain that their first pop-up took place in the Cape Town City Hall as part of the Spier Contemporary.

Two years and six pop-up shops later they opened their first permanent store on Kloof Street, where they display and sell creations from 100 local artists and designers, says Thessa Bos, co-owner of The Fringe Arts.

Kane says the upside obviously extends to property owners and landlords, who, through the pop-up store, can temporarily fill their vacant retail spaces until they have formalised new leases for incoming tenants.

“Pop-ups is a great way to try different locations and build a market.

“We eventually decided to settle in the CBD because we love the hustle and bustle and the neighbourhoodly atmosphere, which fits our concept so well,” says Bos.

She notes that they are about to open a second permanent shop, but the pop-up concept lies close to their hearts and they plan to leverage this trend for more success in the future.

Kane says the format works for both small and large businesses too.

Pop-up shops create a unique environment and experience, engaging their consumer and creating consumer exposure.

Large companies create pop-up shops as part of their campaigns, while smaller companies opt for pop-up shops to create awareness for their brand, says Kane.

British multinational retailer, Topshop recently partnered with the Cape Town boutique, Unknown Union, to launch a pop-up shop and get a sense of the South African market.

Cape Town’s CBD is one of the best CBD’s in South Africa and is a clean, safe and socially caring hub where businesses can thrive.

The City of Cape Town has become a walking CBD, where people based in the CBD during the day walk to meetings, walk around the city during their lunch break, or walk to and from the public transport system.

This makes it very conducive for pop-up shops to thrive due to high foot traffic at any given time in the CBD, according to the CIDD.  

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