The search for pop up space started over 12 months ago when myself and another retailer Nikki Finnemore from online boutique Curious Orange trawled the streets of my beautiful home town of Saffron Walden. We hoped to receive one positive response to our enquiries to host a pop up shop for a 2-4 week stint in one of the many vacant premises. This was not the case and despite the pop up space having gained traction from Brighton to the well trodden roads of the Kings road and vacant shops in Rochester love nor money could not secure us a space.
I was totally dumbfounded at the reaction, as we walked from agent to agent without any success. The shock as is often normal for me wasn’t tears, but hysterical laughter at the frustration of our mission. There was I thinking that pop-ups could be one of the saviour’s of our High Streets.
Unabated however I have carried on searching, and spreading the word on pop-ups. During which time Goddard’s Interiors in Saffron Walden have been hugely supportive. They allowed me space to test the concept over a few evenings for Design Essentials and 2 Christmas Secrets events with other local business’s taking part, and a day long Easter pop-up shop in the showroom. These short events confirmed that there was a market for the products Design Essentials had to offer, and a consumer interest in a pop up shop. So when a tweet went out (I was in Bali) asking whether anyone was interested in space in an existing shop I sprung at the opportunity. After a rather exciting conversation (once back from Bali) with Johnny and Jenny’s (an Independent mens and ladies designer clothing retailer) Gareth the owner agreed to me trialling the concept for a month in the empty space on the first floor of his shop. with the possibility of longer term use.
So here we are Design Essentials is resident at the pop up shop doing what it does best collaborating with a number of individuals including Illustrator Michelle Thompson, Cambridge Artist Diana Probst, Farrar art Design, Pelikan Online and Johnny Egg (one of 10 designers chosen to design a piece of furniture for Heals bicentennial. ) to bring this pop up shop to life. Rather exciting for me also is there are 2 other local business who wish to be involved with the Design Essentials brand.
A number of wonderful local businesses stepped up to offer help during the set up with Waterbaby Flowers dressing the shop with beautiful floral arrangements to compliment the shop, and the Mayor of Saffron Walden supported by attending the shop for the opening on Saturday 15th June.
Lastly but by no means least I have had a huge amount of support and honestly if I was to name them all I would not be able to attend the shop or get any work done at all. So if I have missed a mention apologies, but huge thanks to Liz Weston of Weston communications, Ann Hawkins, The Saffron Walden Fabulous Small business women, The Glovers, Gareth Davies and Maria Davies, Nikki Finnemore, Rob McCarthy , Michelle Thompson, Helen Neale, Rachael Hewlett, Gareth McMahamon . alongside 2 books (bibles) I have with me The Retail Champion by Clare Rayner and Pop up business for Dummies by Dan Thompson
I am part of a newly formed Town Team in Saffron Walden, and I plan to use the information from the experience as evidence of the benefit that pop-up shops, and events add to the community. The long term plan for me is to encourage landlords and agent’s to explore short term rentals, giving up and coming or online businesses an opportunity to showcase their products, generate increased footfall and ensuring vacant premises which stand empty do not detract from the high-street whilst developing my brand Design Essentials.
Phew, well do you think we can do it?
Well I shall try my best. Wish me luck.