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Want to be a pop-up star?

New website Appear Here makes it easy for retailers and brands to take temporary lets on empty stores.

Pop-up stores have become a popular concept over the past few years and start-up business Appear Here aims to make that process as simple as booking a hotel room.

Appear Here, which launched in January this year, is a portal that connects retailers to landlords with retail space available for rent. The platform works with a number of landlords across different UK cities and shows retailers when retail space is available, whether it be for one day or up to six months.

Founder Ross Bailey launched the business after setting up a pop-up shop for his own brand, Rock & Rule, on Marshall Street, near Carnaby Street in London, in summer 2012. Bailey says it took just 12 days from the initial
idea for the pop-up store to open.

As well as making a profit, opening the store significantly raised the profile of T-shirt brand Rock & Rule.

What Bailey also noticed when the pop-up was open was the amount of people coming in store to ask about the space and how he had got it. This led to the idea of Appear Here. “I want to change the way people rent space - it should be flexible, accessible and simple. Lots of spaces are left unused. We want to open them up to people with great ideas,” says Bailey.

A sense of place: as well as rental listings, the site offers an in-depth look at selected areas

A sense of place: as well as rental listings, the site offers an in-depth look at selected areas

The site has launched a new feature this month called Destinations, which takes an in-depth look at six districts in London (Bailey plans to roll out further locations in the future). Editorial content and images are created for each district in order to give anyone coming onto the site a clear picture of that area.

Bailey says: “Destinations is a guide to locations in London with an editorial feel like a magazine, so when you find a space it isn’t just a dull listings site. The guides explain the area, neighbouring retailers and show featured spaces available for flexible rents. We sourced some of the best photographers, so people can fall in love with an area, understand the audience and see what they look like. Whether you’re a start-up or an international designer, you want to fall in love with the area, not just the space.”

In terms of how the site works, brands or retailers can request a space from the site and landlords are given access to a dashboard that allows them to approve or decline a booking.

The concept allows retailers to test an area for a short time or promote a new range, and gives pure-play etailers the chance to meet customers face to face. For customers, it could mean high streets become appealing again, with pop-ups filling the space left by empty stores.

One pure-play etailer that has worked with Appear Here in a number of locations across the UK is young fashion brand Candy Kittens. Bailey says of its success: “[At its] Chelsea store Candy Kittens got four times return on its investment in four weeks and saw an increase in online sales. Its stores to date have created a press reach circulation of over 20 million.”

Whether for PR or sales, pop-up stores have been proven to create a reaction and generate excitement on the high street. If Appear Here can make this process simpler for retailers and encourage more of these campaigns,
it can only be good for customers and retailers alike.

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