Managing a Pop-up

Like any other new business, managing a pop-up shop can be challenging, but should be fun!

We've broken down the day to day management considerations you need to make before starting your pop-up shop, so that you are prepared to operate smoothly.


Real estate agents have a favorite phrase when discussing the value of a property: “Location location location”, and we could not agree more. The following are a guideline to considerations you must make when finding an ideal location for your pop-up shop:

  • Appropriateness of the Location (with respect to your products / services offered): If you are selling high-end watches in a less affluent part of town, or bakery goods in an industrial area, you may be missing out on a better location.
  • Foot Traffic: How many people are walking by the location each day of the week? What are the busiest times of day for foot traffic? How many people walking by the local businesses actually turn into paying customers? These questions need to be answered if you want your pop-up shop to minimize risk. Some areas have lots of foot traffic but don’t have many paying customers (i.e. they are there for the scenery and not patronage), while other areas may have less foot traffic but a high percentage of which are paying customers.
  • Local Competition: If you are planning on opening a clothing / apparel pop-up on a street that already has many other stores selling similar items, you could be out-competed, anger existing businesses, and have access to fewer potential customers.
  • Infrastructure: Perhaps the location you are looking at has little to no parking, is difficult to access by public transit, or is on a street that is undergoing construction for a long period of time. These challenges must be recognized early to avoid potentially crippling situations that limit foot traffic and local interest in your pop-up shop.


Budgeting is a critical part of any business planning and execution. The Business Model Canvas and the Simple Business Plan touch on the basics of budgeting, but the Full Business Plan is the only tool that addresses all the intricate components of a detailed budget. Here, we help you to budget for your pop-up shop if you haven’t researched for, and filled out a Full Business Plan.

Below you will find a brief summary of what is expected in a typical budget. We have created for you several detailed budget spreadsheets (in one file) that you can download and use by Clicking Here which will help you get an idea of what you need to get going, and what to expect in terms of revenues and expenses. A 10-day budget, 4 week budget, and 12 month budget are all included into one [Download not found]

Physical Space

When purchasing inventory, cash flow isn’t the only consideration you should have. The physical space that is available in your store, including floor space, shelving, displays, and wall-mounted items all require careful thought and planning.

The layout of your store, called a planogram in the retail industry, is an integral part of the customers’ experience when shopping. This is part of the pre-sales component of the sales cycle. What items are at eye-level, what items are easy to reach, whether you have any storage space, total square footage, how many of each item is available, etc. are all decisions you must make when planning the store layout.

Place yourself in the customers’ shoes, and walk through your physical space, and compare it to other stores to give yourself an idea of how you feel the customer will want the layout to be, as it will be a big component of their experience, and how they feel about your store.


If you can measure it, you can manage it. It can be critical to gauge the success of your business in order to meet the demands of the customer. Matching the customer’s experience before, during, and after sales, with either what they expect, or something novel and value-added is very important to your value proposition, brand stickiness, and improved word-of-mouth marketing.

The sales experience that the customer goes through has three basic components: pre-sales (including the store layout, merchandising, advertising, customer care, etc.), sales (including how quickly the transaction is completed, the types of payments you accept, the ease of which it is carried out, etc.), and post sales (including warranty, return policies, the quality of the products you sell, etc.).

You need to be able to measure your customers’ opinions of these three components if you want to be able to react to their needs. Being dynamic and agile is a valuable competency to have in the retail environment, and the direction you take, or change in direction should be dictated for the most part by your customers’ opinion, including the sales experience.

There are many ways to measure customer opinions ranging from asking how their experience was, to getting online ratings, to old-fashioned paper forms. Deciding on which measurement method (or combination of methods) you want to use to gauge opinion is an important one because you don’t want to inconvenience, alienate, negatively influence, or waste the time of customer.


If you need to hire staff to help you run the pop-up shop, then they should reflect the values of your pop-up shop as well as you do. Your employees must contribute positively to the customers’ experience in the pre-sales, sales, and post-sales phases. Customers that do not buy anything expect the same level of quality service and customer care that those who buy expect. They can easily spread news of their experiences via word-of-mouth, social media, and other means, which will translate into increased, or decreased sales depending on their opinions.

Training employees is an important part of the start-up and development phases of your pop-up shop. It gives you the time to gauge their abilities and short comings, and an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments to increase their effectiveness as ambassadors of your brand and shop.

Point of Sale / Payment Processing

You will need some form of system to accept payment for your products / services. There are many different types of point of sale (POS) options that you can use from the traditional cash register, to more modern options such as Square.

POS systems are part of your customer’s sales experience, and can add value if it matches or exceeds their expectations. Do your customers want a traditional receipt? Do your customers want to use modern credit and debit card Tap technologies? How much money are you willing to spend on a POS system? Does the POS system update and track inventory and sales figures? These are questions you need to answer when choosing the right POS system for your pop-up shop.

There are different software options that perform POS tasks, including recording and tracking sales / inventory, including Vend, Bindo, and ShopKeep. These programs can be used with an iPad or smartphone to help you reduce costs and add mobility. Shopify or Etsy are options for processing sales, but may not have as many features.

Tracking sales and inventory manually in programs such as Microsoft’s Excel is also a common option used by many small businesses. We have created a simple 8-week [Download not found] spreadsheet in excel that you can download and use.

Other options for POS systems include:


Just about every business needs some kinds of insurance coverage to protect itself, any associated property, and its customers from unexpected events.

The following is a list of typical types of insurance you should ask your legal advisor about:

General Liability Insurance

  • If you, your employees, or your products / services cause (or are alleged to have caused) bodily injury or property damage, this insurance can cover you to a degree

Professional Liability Insurance

  • Also known as “errors and omissions (E&O) insurance
  • This insurance covers your business against claims of negligence in the event that harm is done due to mistakes or failure to perform
  • This insurance is very dependent on the type of products you sell

Property Insurance

  • Equipment, displays, furniture, inventory, etc. are covered to a degree in the event of fire, theft, etc.
  • Be careful as certain events such as floods and earthquakes may not be covered

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

  • If you have hired employees, this insurance is a must
  • This covers their medical treatment(s), disability, and death benefits if an employee suffers an injury or death as a result of working for you

Product Liability Insurance

  • If you are manufacturing or creating a product in-house, this insurance may be necessary
  • This insurance can be tailored to your particular product

Business Interruption Insurance

  • In the event of an unexpected disaster or catastrophic event, your business may be interrupted
  • This insurance covers lost income and is tailored to your business

Other types of insurance may be applicable such as vehicle insurance, home-based business insurance (especially if you are running an online pop-up shop), so talk to your legal advisor to ensure that you are covered properly.


Each City, Province / State, and Country has their own set of required permits for you to operate a business. These permits depend on your pop-up shop’s location, the products / services you are selling, and whether you are hiring employees.

To ensure that you have the right set of permits for your pop-up shop, speak with your legal advisor, and local government.

If your pop-up shop is in Canada, then BizPal has a good resource for identifying potential permits required.