From Pop-Up Shop to Brick-and-Mortar: Four Critical Questions for Your Small Business

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The concept of the “pop-up shop” – opening a short-term storefront – presents small businesses with outstanding opportunities to test products on the market before committing to permanent locations. But if your pop-up shop does well, does that mean you’re ready to open a brick-and-mortar location?

As a small business owner, this is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.

Establishing a permanent presence in the right place and at the right time can be a tremendous boost to your business. However, because pop-up opportunities are relatively inexpensive and easy to run compared to their more permanent counterparts, before you commit, here are several key questions to consider.

1. Have you found the right space for the move?

In “pop-up mode,” your business has flexibility: You can have a short-term sales and brand-building presence at different locations (such as music festivals or in neighborhoods with built-in foot traffic) and at different times, while targeting specific interests for your clientele.

Key consideration: Location is everything when you switch to a permanent location, because you need to attract more customers and generate more sales to cover the additional costs you’ll incur.

It’s essential to find a space that offers access to similar benefits as pop-up locations – foot traffic, visibility and access to your key buyers – as well as client amenities like easy parking. If you rely on seasonal revenue, you’ll also need an affordable location that enables you to optimize sales opportunities at the right time.

2. Do you have the team or manpower to staff a brick-and-mortar location?

With a pop-up shop, you can cover the business hours yourself or with a partner or friend.

Key consideration: When a business has a permanent location, things like the management team and staff become more critical. You’ll need to cover the longer hours and additional days that you’re open for business. Assess whether you’re ready to take on additional staff, in terms of financial commitment and human-resource management.

3. Does a permanent location fit into your business plan and support strategic growth?

Because pop-ups are relatively inexpensive, they provide quick wins for short-term sales and marketing opportunities. Business owners often include them in their growth plans for this reason, and because they can be leveraged for further growth in the future.

Key consideration: When considering whether to open a permanent location, look to your business or growth plan. If a permanent location was always in the works, then now may be the time to do it.

If you hadn’t planned for this type of business commitment, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t do it. Make sure that you understand why it would benefit your business in ways that other methods may not.

Look at your past pop-up experiences and client-based feedback. If you identify client experiences or values that are best achieved through a permanent location, then it may be worthwhile to make the investment.

4. Is your business in a position to financially support a permanent location?

If a pop-up is successful in the short term or during a special event, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be equally successful as a brick-and-mortar location.

Key consideration: A permanent location is a significant investment. In addition to rent, utilities, property insurance and other location-based expenses, you also have new or expanded expenses for staffing, inventory and other day-to-day activities.

Knowing how you’ll fund this, especially early on and through cyclical downturns, is critical.

Talk to your accountant and attorney for experienced guidance on whether your business would generate the cash flow and have the necessary working capital available for increased expenses as your business becomes established in a new location. A small business loan can be a great option if you’re ready for that next step.

We’re here to help

With proper planning and funding, a permanent location can be a boon to small businesses, which is why so many of the stores that have historically lined our country’s “main streets” are locally owned small businesses.

If you decide that moving to a more permanent location is the way for your business to go, contact us today. We can help you hone your business plan and financials, learn critical financial-management skills and identify potential loan opportunities to help your business grow.


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