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Shipping containers popping up as retail stores

Boxpark Shoreditch.

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When Boxpark Shoreditch opened in London in 2011, it was the world’s first pop-up mall. Constructed entirely out of refitted shipping containers, the aim was to offer affordable and flexible leases for brands, cafes, restaurants and galleries.

Seven years on pop-up stores have become an increasingly popular way for retailers to test a new location, launch a product, or just find a bricks-and-mortar space in an expensive rental market.

Current Boxpark Shoreditch tenants include a mix of well-known names like skincare brand Kiehl’s and STA Travel alongside independent retailers. There are also food and beverage options and regular art exhibits and events.

In Australia, shipping container supplier Royal Wolf helps retailers create their own pop-ups. CEO Neil Littlewood said the number of brands using Royal Wolf containers led the company to create a range of containers specifically for this purpose.

“As the demand for compact, easily transportable and cost-efficient alternatives to bricks-and-mortar continues to grow, we’ve responded by expanding our offering of portable solutions,” he said.

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shipping container pop ups

Arnott’s used a Royal Wolf container for a recent product activation.

Royal Wolf national manufacturing manager Brendon Greatrex told Retailbiz he has seen the containers used for everything from product activations to one-off events and street markets.

“We’ve built thousands of pop-ups, from the very extravagant, highly finished containers fitted out with expensive architectural finishes to very simple containers. We’ve seen them used in fantastic ways.”

The benefit for retailers is that they are cost effective and easy to fit-out, he said. “There are creative people putting these pop-up solutions into all sorts of nooks and crannies all over Australia. They can put them into areas they otherwise couldn’t get a lease for.”

 

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