Calgary businesses are using a flexible new business model to sell products and test the market


Thanks to Jelly Modern Doughnuts, and their explosion of flavours – from doughnuts topped with bacon, to flavoured like a chocolate bar, or even stuffed with jelly – you can now enjoy the company’s unique treats being sold around Calgary as part of a business trend known as pop-up shops.

“Pop-up retail (are) temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind. From art to fashion to tech gadgets and food, pop-ups are exciting because they create short-term stores that are just about as creative as they are engaging…” says Erik Eliason, co-founder of Storefront – an online marketplace for startups and global brands looking for short-term rental space.

“We tend to open up pop-up shops with stores that align with our vision … and it’s a fairly low cost way to get people aware of your product,” says Rosanne Tripathy, co-founder of Jelly Modern Doughnuts.

“Urban cities such as Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and New York City have been hosting pop-up shops since the 1990’s,” says Eliason, “And they come in all shapes and sizes,” including storefronts, kiosks, or spots at local markets.

This industry trend gives businesses like Jelly Modern Doughnuts a way to promote and test their products before opening up a bricks and mortar store, says Tripathy.

There are other examples of pop-up shops in Calgary, such as Market Collective, which offers an unconventional way to develop a retail space while also giving an authentic pop-up shop market experience.Doughnuts3Monogram Coffee is a boutique café that is also apart of the pop-up shop industry trend in Calgary. They are located at Crave Cupcakes and DaDe art gallery, but a cup of French pressed coffee and a Jelly doughnut would not be the worst choice. Photo by Savaya Shinkaruk

Eliason says, “Though it may seem like you’re spending a sizeable chunk of change when opening a pop-up shop, keep in mind that pop-up shops usually involve around $2,000 in startup costs compared to the $98,000 for long-term brick-and-mortar (locations).”

Tripathy says the donuts are made at their permanent location and then brought on site to a pop-up shop location, as it would be too expensive to purchase all the instruments and utilities needed to create their product on-site.

John Moss, vice president with Calgary Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE Limited Calgary), says this industry trend works best with cosmetic brands, retail stores and food companies because they don’t have to worry about supplying large amounts of inventory for big ticket items like furniture.

Moss says, “(The) reason for a pop-up (shop), (is) they don’t know if their business is going to survive in a certain area so they do something that is less committing where they don’t have to sign a long-term lease and test the market…”

“Pop-ups (that are going into Holt Renfrew) are aligning themselves strategically with the appropriate partner (for traffic).”

Trending Jelly

Twenty-two year old Chloe Cappelletto first enjoyed a Jelly Modern doughnut at Holt Renfrew about three years ago around Easter weekend.

Doughnuts2Try a Jelly Modern Doughnut at their permanent location or at one of the pop-up locations , which pop up at Holt Renfrew, Calgary Farmers Market, or even at a new store opening happening around YYC. Photo by Savaya Shinkaruk“I’ll find out where their main location is and just go there, depending on how far it is away from me. And if it is far, then I’ll look and see if there are any pop-up locations closer to me,” said Cappelletto.

Rosanne Tripathy says, “We tend to open up pop-up shops with stores that align with our vision … and it’s a fairly low cost way to get people aware of your product.”

Eliason says, “About 95 per cent of all retail purchases are still completed offline, and a pop-up is your opportunity to take advantage of the retail channel.”

Tripathy says she does not have an exact amount in terms of revenue made during a pop-up shop but “(an) estimate would be $500 plus per day.”

Jelly Modern Doughnuts additionally was asked to do a pop-up shop location at Holt Renfrew, William and Sonoma in Chinook Centre Mall, Crate and Barrel and the Calgary Farmers Market.

“The advantage of pop-ups is you can go in high volume and high traffic without having the over expenditure. With the pop-ups … you try to align yourself with businesses that reflects your way of thinking because they elevate your product,” Tripathy adds.

Moss says that in Calgary, “There are around 40 to 70 pop-up shops open within a year … and stay open between four and six months before opening up into a brick and mortar location.”

Market Collective

As an option to a single pop-up location like Jelly Modern Doughnuts’ concept, Market Collective has taken the farmers market concept and built a community of pop-up shops in a single location.

Market Collective is an independent market in Calgary, founded in 2008 by Angela Dione and Angel Guerra, and is being held at the Chinese Cultural Centre this year.

“We differ from a single store, brand or kiosk, because at each Market Collective we represent hundreds of individual artists and food vendors who come together to create a very special community of locally-minded individuals,” says Guerra.Doughnuts1An arrangement of the wild and bold flavors this bakery Jelly Modern Doughnuts creates. They tend to sell their smaller doughnuts during within their pop-up shop locations, and however at their permanent location they sell the larger sized doughnut. larger sizes at their permanent location. Photo by Savaya Shinkaruk

Guerra says, Market Collective serves as a pop-up shop because, “Market Collective is similar to a pop-up in that we don’t have a daily location for people to come.”

However, they do differ slightly from a typical pop-up shop like Jelly Modern Doughnuts because of their consistency, length and time of operation and Guerra says, “It feels slightly different (from a typical pop-up shop).”

A curation team helps decide when it comes to selecting the vendors at each Market Collective, says Guerra.

“We have a curation team that carefully selects the artists and food vendors for each Market Collective so that we can remain consistent with the demographic of people that we draw, and so that we can showcase artists at each Market Collective that we know the crowd will appreciate and support,” says Guerra.

The industry trend of pop-up shops works well for Market Collective, she says, because it allows the ability to give individual vendors a space to showcase their work with thousands of guests circulating and attending.

Thumbnail by Savaya Shinkaruk. 

The editor responsible for this story is Zoe Choy, 

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