Despite all the prognostications about the death of retail, Miami has carved out a creative niche for temporary — and sometimes mobile — retailing: the pop-up shops dotting the metro area.
Credit the Magic City’s appeal to the sunshine, year-round pleasant temperatures and dynamic multicultural artistic vibe. From high fashion to street gear to sneakerware, established and emerging brands are drawn to South Florida’s hottest pop-up retailing locale.
“Miami’s crowd is always seeking something different,” said Soumya Jain, co-founder of PopMark, an online platform that connect brands with high-visibility, short-term retail spaces.
The city has benefited from pockets of renovation and refurbishment that have created funky in-town environs attracting restaurant goers, boutique shoppers and party people.
And because Miami is home to a plentiful offering of local art and design, when it comes to such counterculture movements, brands think beyond the typical retail hubs of New York and Los Angeles, according to Jain.
“For the last couple of years, [pop-up retailing] has been really prominent,” Jain said. “We have seen more stop-and-shop concepts in Miami and stand-alone people there coming up with really creative ideas to sell their merchandise.”
A moveable feast of visual arts
That’s why Wynwood is a favorite locale. Known for its boldly colored urban murals, the factory-turned-arts district is a choice destination and a hot spot for pop-up retailing, according to Jain.
The vibe is cool, and the attractions are hot right now — and art is everywhere.
As a result, Wynwood attracts a “crowd interested in the experiential aspect of art,” said Jain, and that’s a big draw for retailers and individuals with products to sell.
“When people are seeking a different vibe which is hip, unique, eclectic, that’s when they go for Miami —especially in the winter months to escape the cold," Jain said. "Brands can be more creative because people can get out and about.”
Indeed, creativity was at the heart of PopUpStream owner Luciana Bueno’s vision for setting up her mobile play — in a repurposed Airstream trailer — on a “gift shop where you could find a little bit of everything.” Bueno’s shop, a rotating retailing venue catering to artists, as well as to small local businesses, includes home goods, fashion, jewelry and original work from photographers, painters and sculptors.
“We work mostly with one-of-a-kind pieces,” said Bueno, who is both an architect and an interior designer.
The Brazilian native admits to having a long-time fascination with AirStreams. Two years ago, after seeing the mobile home parked in a backyard and being used as a makeshift tool shed, Bueno knocked on the owner’s door and inquired about buying it. After a year of planning and renovating, she opened her own door to the trailer.
Bueno’s shop called pop-up entrepreneurial hub Wynwood Yard home for a year. Though mobile, PopUpStream was stationed among the food, music and fun, offering short-term tenants access to the vibrant atmosphere.
Further cultivating its presence in the art world, Miami is also the winter home for the international Art Basel festival. This local annual celebration of art will soon be the temporary home for Birkenstock Box.
Billed as “a traveling experiment in retail,” by Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert, in a recent Q&A on Birkenstockbox.com, the Box is the size of a sea freight container and currently on display and selling wares in Milan, Italy. It was designed “to achieve creative momentum,” according to Reichert.
PopMark’s Soumya Jain said the Birkenstock Box coming to Miami demonstrates the city’s creative pull. “When brands see they need to find a new audience to test out products that are contrary to something they’ve been doing,” Jain said. “Miami definitely stands out.”
The key for this pop-up shop gambit, according to Reichert, is to “draw the crowd, particularly the younger generation, back to quality [via] the tactile experience.
“To touch the product — that can’t be conveyed online,” Reichert said. “These [pop-up] concepts show that retail is capable of surviving, and they show how to add components in retail that can’t be reproduced in the online world.”