A new trend is exploding in the Toronto market. Pop-up shops are happening all over the city for short runs to help increase brand awareness for hundreds of companies exploring new ways to get customers interested in their offering.

So why are so many retailers and PR agencies ditching the traditional lease in favour of high-impact, short-term appearances? It’s all about being able to create meaningful relationships with customers.

Short term activations allow for retailers to try new concepts for customers at a low cost, all while creating brand awareness that comes with the buzz of opening a pop-up. For property owners and lease holders, short term rental agreements can make use of generally vacant space and introduce a new vitality and extra foot traffic for retail spaces.

Kanye West’s Pablo pop-up shop is a successful example, where together with Universal,  21 temporary shops were simultaneously opened worldwide over the course of one weekend. For the Canadian edition of the pop-up store, his team rented out an empty retail storefront in the Queen West neighbourhood as a place to sell his clothing line promoting his Saint Pablo tour. Minimalist style was in full effect, with stark-white walls and one single, tall mirror along with racks of merchandise.

In August, the beloved e-commerce mattress brand Casper was seeking a unique way for potential buyers to try their mattresses and get their brand in front of those who might be wearier of making such a big purchase online. To offer shoppers the full experience of owning a Casper mattress they created their very own “Snooze Rooms” in downtown Toronto that could be booked for 15-minute naps. The “Snooze Rooms” came to life by way of storage containers that were transformed and installed in four locations across the city during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

One of the more unconventional examples of a brand getting more engagement through a pop-up shop is Harley-Davidson who recently launched a coffee shop in the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood. Bikes that are more suited to urban drivers were on display throughout the cafe, and the décor was exactly what you would imagine, with memorabilia and posters all over the shelves and walls of the space.

Fully equipped with a garage area, aptly named The Shed, people could stop by for workshops, classes, and a ride simulator to get a feel for the next bike.

While Harley-Davidson had a successful pop-up, the real success came to the property owner who was able to benefit from the increased foot traffic and was eventually approached by a brand who wanted to sign a 10-year lease. 

For retailers finding these unique spaces for limited time periods has always been a challenge. Companies like thisopenspace act as an industry resource, with Canada’s largest inventory of short term commercial listings, connects space seekers with property owners through an online marketplace where they can list, discover and book relevant short-term commercial spaces. 

Since thisopenspace launched in 2015, it has facilitated thousands of booking requests for brands including Lululemon, Hershel and Converse to big name artists like Future and The Weeknd. While anyone can list a location in any city, the company focuses on Toronto, New York City, and Vancouver, its headquarters.

about thisopenspace:

thisopenspace is an online marketplace making it easy for creative teams to discover and book any space, anywhere, for a few hours to a few months. From an empty downtown retail space, to an art gallery inside a heritage building, or a converted shipyard event venue, it can all be found on thisopenspace. Property owners and lease holders can open their doors, reaching new audiences, expanding their network, and growing their business with additional income. 


Written by Carolyn, thisopenspace

Written by Carolyn, thisopenspace