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Garage-style pop up


A pop up shop can be pretty basic… is a garage sale a pop up ?

On and off throughout 2016 there was a garage sale happening in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg. It seemed to tick a few of the pop up boxes (some products were a bit unusual and it had a bit of a theme… also the shop seemed to open for a while, then close for an extended period, before opening again !) There’s a story behind all this, of course.

This “pop up” was just a garage sale in a different format… although the venue itself really WAS a garage originally (the first in the Coburg area – with cars and mechanics, petrol bowsers out on the footpath…). When the current property owners came along 15 years ago, the fix-it business was still going – an old man tinkering around in his workshop. In 2016 the original garage opened its doors again, with a jumble of pre-loved items on offer (mostly sourced from the sheds and cupboards of owner Cheryl and her extended family). By the time I popped in for a look, most of the good stuff had gone – but there were still a few “curious items” lying around. What caught my eye initially was a small plaque quoting Fidel Castro… ”the US will come to talk to us when they have a black president and the world has a Latin American Pope”. Cheryl’s business card also quotes Che Guevara (“it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”). There seems to be a bit of Cuban theme here, I thought !

Apart from helping to clear a few cupboards, the pop up also funded an extended overseas trip for Cheryl (no, not Cuba – but she has been, and longs to go back…) – that’s why it opened for a while, closed for 4 months and then re-opened (when Cheryl returned !)

Even though the sale had been trading for many months, the day I stopped to look (and chat), other people also came to browse at the final items on sale. The Coburg garage pop up has now closed again – (builders are due to move into sometime soon, to do some roof maintenance) – but who knows if / when they might open the doors again ?

I’d usually say that a garage sale isn’t quite a pop up… missing some of the essential “pop up elements”. But it’s kinda hard to define the difference between pop up retail and a garage sale. Both events (usually) have a defined start date and end date (hopefully… short-term), which creates a level of anticipation and urgency for the shoppers, they also rely on wide promotion to succeed (which is so easy these days, with social media at everyone’s finger-tips) – and they both work best in high-traffic, high-profile locations. The difference is, I guess, that pop-up retail is also about branding. A good pop up will reach out to new customers, educate and entertain them in unique and memorable ways – and enhance relationships. A good garage sale, on the other hand, might be judged on what’s not left at the end of the event (and please… don’t come back next week asking for more… definitely not a refund or exchange !)





images :            Google Images –, Cheryl’s Coburg pop up



One comment to "Garage-style pop up"

  1. André 04/01/2017

    A great read, thank you!
    Did you end up buying the Castro sign?!


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