As more retail brands experiment with pop-up shops, a new local startup has plans to enhance the concept with permanent shops that rotate products from online-only brands, giving consumers a pop-up experience without the hassle of constantly relocating.
Pop Box, founded by Randy Jensen and Anne-Marie Kovacs, will open its first location Oct. 30 in Lincoln Park at 1024 W. Armitage Ave. The shop’s first theme, which will run from the store’s opening until Dec. 24, will focus on subscription boxes. So far, participating brands include Home Chef, Vinebox and Night In.
“Our goal is to give these online brands a platform to compete in the retail space and get in front of customers who want to be able to use these products, and feel them and touch them,” Jensen said.
Brands that want to display their products in a Pop Box store pay an undisclosed flat fee. They can also provide specific promotional coupon codes that only Pop Box visitors can use if they opt to purchase a brand’s product. To avoid making the store feel like a trade show, Jensen said they will limit the number of products in the store to 15 at a time.
The next theme has yet to be determined, but Jensen said the startup plans to dabble in online clothing retail, giving Pop Box visitors a chance to try on clothing from brands that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to without buying it first.
Building a brick-and-mortar store to essentially sell merchandise out of could seem daunting considering the fallout retail stores have experienced this year. Many say retail is dying due to online shopping, so why create a physical retail destination?
“[Retail] is not dying, it’s changing,” Jensen said. “And our store is a way for online brands to tell their story. It’s a great test market for these guys.”
So far, the company is completely self-funded, but Jensen said there are plans to raise money in the future. They currently have eight employees, and though Chicago is their first and only location, there are plans to expand to more cities in 2018.