Pop-Up Shop Series

For the next 10 days, Lune and I will be vending the Fringe Festival market, a busy downtown theater and performance art festival in Winnipeg. I thought it would be fun to do a behind the scenes breakdown of how I prepare, set up the sale, develop attractive and functional displays, put my best biz face on, and make the most of the 'come what may' world of temporary shops. I hope you enjoy this Pop-Up-Shop Series!


Successful pop-up's take some planning. A few days before setup, I make a list of all the non-saleable items I need to gather or buy to make it easy on myself while at the sale. This list has changed with time, and a lot of experience. There is definitely such thing as being overly prepared. If the size of your kit is too large, or too hard to sort, it'll become more of a headache than it's worth. 

Here's the supply bag that I'm packing tonight:

  • table cloths to cover table
  • extra plastic cloths to cover merch from rain (good idea even if you have a shade tent)
  • heavy duty large clothes pins to secure table cloths (wind is a total pain)
  • other element cover-ups, i use zip up garment bags to cover my dress forms
  • clear tape
  • scissors (loose threads and so on, you'll wish you had them...)
  • sharpie
  • pen
  • hang tags and stick tags for last minute pricing (or re-pricing for lost tags)
  • folding chair
  • business cards or calling cards
  • directional lighting (this is great for bringing attention to small items)
  • full body or hand mirror(s) for customers
  • cash/change pouch you can wear at your hip
  • cash box 
  • carbon copy receipt pad (sometimes people ask...)
  • bags (for multiple small purchases or if a customer requests one)
  • medium sized plastic bags for your own trash
  • microfiber cloth 
  • water
  • healthy snacks (just in case you can't get away, you'll appreciate that granola bar)
  • lip balm, sunblock, bug spray (depending where you're popping up)

When packing for a short sale, I make sure to use a hard vintage suitcase for my personal kit so I can incorporate it into the display as a riser and not worry about it being grabbed from under the table or making the displays look messy.

This summer, I'm lucky to have a shop on wheels complete with a fridge, storage cupboards, lights, and electricity so my list has a few extras (including coffee maker, fan, accent lighting, ipod and dock). The good thing about a sale that lasts more than one day, is that you'll learn quickly what you need and what is just weighing you down.

Besides, you need to save room for stock!

Questions are welcome during this series. Remember, these tips are based on 10 years of local pop up sale experience, and reflect what works for me. I hope you'll find them helpful. Please feel free to submit additions (your favorite supply kit items) in the comments for others to enjoy!