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Who’s popping up this Christmas ?


We travelled across the US to see who’s popping up for Christmas (by internet – it’s much quicker than sleigh !)

Here’s a selection of brands popping up this month – not necessarily themed for Christmas, but hopefully stocked with holiday gift options…

The most “christmassy” pop up we found was a shop at New York’s JFK airport – where “travel retailer” Hudson has opened a “festive pop-up store” brimming with “ornaments, holiday sweaters… toys, chocolates and a variety of other gifting products”*. Just the thing for last minute purchases as travellers make their way home for the holidays.

A rather quirky store has opened in Manhattan – the Flash Back Flash Forward pop up by KIOSK includes “selections from geographically based collections… German light prisms, Japanese headphones, Italian minimalist tape dispensers… artwork, objects, and books from their community of creative collaborators (stitched boro fragments, a ceramic knot, “Punks is Hippies” T-shirts)” calls this “New York’s Most Unique Holiday Pop-Up… shelves are modestly filled with items that most people will not have seen before, and are unlikely to see anywhere else.”^

Another pop up in NYC will cater to younger audiences – the “live-action puppet series” Helpsters on Apple TV+ (from the makers of Sesame Street) has taken space in West 16th Street, and covered the windows with Helpsters graphics (“for problems big or small, we’re here to help solve them all!”). But it’s not clear if the store sells any product. 9TO5Mac reports the pop-up is “actually the set and filming location for the show”.

Before we leave New York City… reports “right now, in Soho, there are no less than 12 pop-up stores… (if you) venture a bit further north… you’ll encounter another eight to 10” !

Across in San Francisco, Gumps (described by wiki as a “luxury American home furnishings and home décor retailer” – who filed for bankruptcy in August 2018) have re-launched with a pop up store in one of their own, original locations (“a 2000 square foot, two room store… home to Gump’s from 1909 to 1994”). The “mostly holiday-related inventory / expensive Christmas trinkets” haven’t impressed some shoppers though – “the inventory is recognizable as what was left over from the old store” said one Yelper.

I found an interesting analysis of what went wrong for Gump’s last year – an article in says the business was “doing three-quarters of its business online… (so it was) certainly not a victim of e-commerce… the retailer had also worked hard to make its physical store a destination and ‘experiential’… (but) Gump’s simply lost track of its customer’s taste levels” Forbes contributor Warren Shoulberg wrote “it stuck with a painfully classic product mix that became irrelevant with the lifestyles of the people it had hoped would shop at the store… from all appearances, Gump’s never even tried… it never changed”@ The pop up store expects to run for 4 months, allowing the new business owners to assess their next move (back into bricks and mortar, perhaps ?)

In the Rocky Mountains resort of Aspen, CHANEL is hosting a very snazzy pop up store, fitted out in the style of Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel’s own iconic Parisian apartment (black and white motifs, mirrors everywhere… a long run of plush carpet featuring the CHANEL logo). CHANEL is no stranger to popping-up… Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Saint Tropez over the past year or so. L’ says the Aspen pop up “features a slew of winter-ready accessories… including earmuffs, hats, scarves, gloves, and even skis… The shop also showcases many fine jewelry pieces… (and garments) from both Fall 2019 and Resort 2020” (including the last Karl Lagerfeld and first Virginie Viard collections)

And speaking of luxury brand pop ups (closer to home) – I suppose we could mention the Bvlgari e-pop up store – although strictly speaking I wouldn’t call this popping-up. Bvlgari are quite proficient with their physical pop up stores… various locations over the past few years (currently at Westfield in Sydney and the Bvlgari Christmas House in Singapore) – but it seems this brand also likes to use “pop up” to describe their on-line offers. That’s a bit of a sore point with me… don’t quite appreciate why stores use the pop up term for their on-line sales. I discussed this way back in 2013 – brands that are virtually (almost) popping-up (“…in my opinion ‘mobile-enabled’ and ‘click-to-add-to-your-shopping-cart’ don’t quite belong there…”)


* source : / Hudson opens festive pop up store

^ source : / KIOSK New York holiday pop-up shop

# source : / Apple opening pop-up location in New York City

@ source : / Gump’s files for bankruptcy



images :    Christmas pop up : Hudson, KIOSK, Helpsters, Gump’s, Bvlgari, Chanel



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