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Politics and pop up, stateside


Pop up shops join the US Presidential conventions…

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear news of the 2016 US Presidential candidates and their campaigns… updates on the rhetoric, antics, blunders and scandals. As we get closer to the November election date (finally, phew) the heat (and hype) is turned up even higher… especially now that the nominees have been confirmed.

Last week, Cleveland Ohio hosted the Republican National Convention – attracting around 50,000 guests to the city (and global media attention). The convention itself was held in a basketball arena, with capacity of 21000 (for the 2473 Republican delegates, 15000 media and their entourages). With such an influx of visitors – and the general hype of a major event in town – it seemed inevitable that pop up stores would appear. “The city has come alive, and it’s one hell of a Trump-theme circus” reported last week… “There are banners on buses, bus stations, shopfront windows, pubs and even footpaths. Adoring Trump supporters walk past staunch protesters lining the streets. Pop-up shops sell everything from Trump’s famous “Make America Great Again” caps to “Hillary For Prison 2016” badges.” ran an article on the (temporary) arrival of a Saks Fifth Avenue pop-up store, within the Ritz Carlton Hotel Cleveland… “just in case you forgot to pack something… skincare kits for men, lipstick, fragrances, men’s shirts and ties, beautiful small bags and clutches from Chloe and YSL and museum quality evening bags from Judith Leiber… also is a large selection of handbags from Burberry, cufflinks, lapel flowers, socks and fun watches from a hot new brand called Kyboe!”

A Cleveland article – article caught my interest, with the description of pop up stores which had opened within a Victorian-era shopping arcade “which has been largely vacant…” – but now hosting 7 temporary tenants. One of the new businesses say they’re testing the location to “see if locals will shop there before deciding on (a) long-term plan”, another said her shop was busier last week (before the convention started) – “people on their lunch breaks coming downtown and those people are not coming into work this week”… and a day spa manager described business during the convention as “like steady slow. It’s not dead and it’s not… nobody’s busting down the doors” (many of the spa customers this week have been convention delegates and reporters, coming in for facials…)

Just 4 days after Cleveland, the Presidential-campaign attention turned to Philadelphia Pennsylvania for the Democratic National Convention. The Wells Fargo Centre (seated capacity also 21000) hosted the 4767 Democratic delegates – as well as a “who’s who” of US political and entertainment celebrities (and thousands of media ?) Outside the venue there were several pop up installations – The Washington Post described a (satirical) pop-up “Trump Museum” set up by Clinton supporters – “complete with Trump Vodka, Trump-designed neckties and other products the businessman has sold through the years…” – also a “Philly Feast” to showcase local food trucks. said the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee would sell official DNC merchandise through a 400-square-foot shop at the Comcast Centre, also at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre and at 30th Street Station. The stores offered “one-of-a-kind apparel, buttons, drink-ware and accessories, all with designs centered around Philadelphia 2016…”. ”Much of this merchandise was designed by local artists, showcasing some of the incredible talent that exists here” said Kevin Washo, executive director of the Host Committee.

The Democratic pop up store has become a regular gig for Philadelphia-based Impact Dimensions, which specialises in branded merchandise items. The business was confirmed as the 2016 official merchandise provider and manager earlier this year – which set some serious wheels in motion. Challenges facing Impact Dimensions included the uncertainty of how much stock to supply (“we don’t want to be stuck with $100,000 in Philadelphia-themed merchandise” says business partner Norber McGettiganin) – and expanding their regular work-force by 15 for the convention. They pre-sold US$300,000 in volunteer T-shirts and $50,000 in lanyards… but now hoping for a further $300,000 in sales of shirts and merchandise through the temporary stores.

The main Comcast Centre shop will stay open until 5th August, while one of the smaller stores was due to close on 27th July (before the convention concluded)

Both Cleveland and Philadelphia expected around US$250million in visitor and convention revenues – that’s a whole lot of opportunity for local businesses ! (and some clever pop up people…)


Republican National Convention 2016

RNC 2016 merchandise

Cleveland Arcade, RND 2016 (

DNC 2016 merchandise

Democratic National Convention 2016

2016 US Presidential conventions  (


images :

Republican National Convention 2016, RND 2016 merchandise (, Cleveland Arcade RNC 2016 (, DNC 2016 merchandise (, Democratic National Convention 2016, 2016 US Presidential conventions (


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