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New marketplace for pop-up shops launches to serve a ‘changing’ high street

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Online retailers looking to test the high street and global brands selling directly to consumers have been among the first clients for a new ‘pop-up’ online marketplace that aims to make renting retail space as easy as booking a hotel room.

Brands including Made in Chelsea spin-off Candy Kittens, and US sportswear company Under Armour have both worked with new online marketplace The site enables users including retailers, brands, entrepreneurs and artists to book short-term rentals of retail spaces that might otherwise be standing empty.

The service has been founded by Ross Bailey, who says that 3,500 weeks of short-term retail rental space has been requested since the service was first launched just a few weeks ago. He says the service meets a need that is emerging as the high street changes. While retailers that were once stalwarts of the UK high streets are closing branches, with names such as HMV, Jessops, Game and Blockbuster going into administration, new uses for short-term retail space are emerging.

“The high street isn’t on its last legs, it’s changing,” said Bailey, “and retailers, large and small, need to embrace this change. With an increasing number of people turning to online to do their shopping, the high street needs to offer something that online can’t, and that’s human interaction.

“The future of retail will be around experience. Shops need to be a place where people can see, touch, learn and share. And the high street needs to be a constantly changing environment rather than a stale, static space with large uninspiring stores.”

Bailey points to uses for a pop-up shop ranging from a method of testing the market for a new idea, location, concept or product, to targeted marketing that can be used to advertise a brand in a specific location, to a specific audience. They can also enable brands to grow their sales at key peak periods by increasing stores, temporarily. And for online brands, says Bailey, they offer a way to come face-to-face with customers and showroom their products or services.

“Pop-ups are injecting life back into the high street by providing the opportunity for people to launch or promote their products and ideas,” he said. They enable people with great ideas to appear, cause a storm and disappear. They hold attention and then they’re gone before people have the chance to get bored.

“And this pop-up trend is not just benefitting consumers, retailers and local high streets, but also innovative landlords with empty space who can get a return on property that might previously have been sitting empty, or fill an awkward pause.”

Retailers who have previously used pop-up shops range from online marketplace eBay, showcasing its range ahead of Christmas, and Harvey Nichols, using empty space to expand its food hall in locations such as Bristol.

Appear Here enables people to list, search and book short term retail space around the UK by price, location and demographic, and effortlessly set up a pop-up in their area of choice. The spaces are booked on a short-term lease basis and the duration can be from as little as a week to six months.

It helps users to find the right location for their pop-up shop by providing online destination guides, with professional photographs and facts and statistics about the local area, from likely footfall to nearby attractions and the neighbours.

It then promises to simplify the paperwork to get the lease agreement and insurance documents in place quickly, while also helping with practical details from local equipment hire to finding a local handyman through a dedicated outsourced service team.

AppearHere has won backing from investors including Forward Venture Partners, Ball Park Ventures while angel investors include Russell Buckley, former European head of Google’s AdMob, and Eric Newman, former chief executive of outdoor media company Kinetic.

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