Creating a sustainable pop up shop…

So I have been MIA (Missing in action) for a little while, and whilst it has pained me to not update this blog on a monthly basis it has all been for a good and positive cause.

I have had to put RedBorder on hold momentarily to manage this project, but I saw it as an opportunity to acquire additional knowledge and skills something which I would have had to pay handsomely and take time out for, so the pros massively outweighed the cons. I swiftly realised that working on this project is akin to a fast track masters in project management.

The project which is part of a wider scheme to regenerate Sidcup High street, focusing on helping small businesses to have an opportunity to test trade on the high street, something which currently comes at a premium.

Sidcup & Co is set up to be a  multi purpose space, incorporating the  provision for Retail, Business and Events




During the latter part of 2013 and following 3 test phases, we invited applicants to apply for funding to help their small businesses, in December 2013, 15 grants were awarded.

The successful  businesses ranged from Ladies wear retailers, Jewellery makers, cupcake maker to electricians and graphic designers.

Each business received up to £5000 worth of support this was provided in the form of

  • Business support and training
  • 6 months of retail space
  • Capital sum to invest in to their business
  • Match funding
With their capital investment each business was encouraged to purchase stock or something that is an asset to their business, invariably this will help them generate revenue in order to make a profit, which they would then reinvest in their business.
The aim of this was that after 6 months, if their business is truly a viable one for Sidcup they would have accumulated sufficient monies to pay for rental of their space.
As the initial 6 months support draws to a close we have several business in a position to still continue trading with us, but most importantly they are growing and expanding their business internally. They are creating a customer base, which bodes well if they wish to take up occupancy in a unit on the high street. This all contributes to positive outcomes for the project
Whilst the overall funding for Sidcup & Co is guaranteed until October 2015, the aim is to make this a sustainable venture allowing for more entrepreneurs to benefit from the programme. The project continues to prove a success with local buy in, current crop of traders wishing to expand, positive comments form customers, a waiting list to occupy, good sales figures and footall, retail space currently at capacity and expansion plans underway, it is a positive indication that this project has legs and with careful  and clever operational management could be a success.
As we enter the next phase of this project which is the governance, I momentarily reflect on when I started this project, initially I  would have appreciated some lessons learnt tips so for anyone who is currently setting up a similar venture and reading this blog I have listed a few  below for you.
Key lessons learnt from assessing applications:
  • Assess the person behind the business and not just the business: request CV’s
  • People will tell you anything to get what is essentially free money to them
  • Give yourself enough time to assess the applications
  • Have a strict and fair process for judging the applications
  • if you don’t have enough credible applications either open the applications process again or  invest more money into the other successful applicants.
Key lessons learnt from setting up the operational aspect of a pop up
  • Everything is not going to fall into place over night irrespective of how much planning you do
  • You will encounter a variety of personalities, with different needs. This will challenge you to assess how you do things and gain an understanding of human behaviour.
  • Ensure what is required of the businesses in order to trade in the environment is realistic
  • Concentrate on the businesses who truly have a desire to succeed the others will either raise their game or fall by the wayside. Do not see this as your failure!
  • Utilise and help develop the skills of the traders to support the operational aspect of the shop
  • Ensure you are able to set up credit card payment facility, #Izettle helped us with ours

Initial lessons learnt from setting up a pop up shop under the constraints of local authority

  • Ensure all due diligence is done with regards to lease and other legal matters
  • Ensure you understand how procurement works or at least work with someone who does
  • Understand how the tendering process works or work with with someone who does
  • Understand the approval channel you need to go through and plan for the various stages of sign offs.
  • Work with consultants who truly understand your vision (have a clearly defined vision)
  • Don’t be afraid to change or amend your strategy if it isn’t working, business is all about change in order to survive. The sooner the better in some instances
  • Work closely with communications to ensure the right message in the correct tone is being communicated
  • Be prepared to work outside of the core hours

As I continue of this journey, I shall keep you posted, but for now have a look at our brochure by clicking on the image below.