Recently, Toys R Us announced an expansion of its holiday "pop-up" store strategy, which it employed quite successfully last Christmas. I blogged about that strategy at the time, arguing that it had great potential to grab market share in the down economy given the demise of other mall-based toy stores, while minimizing the long term fixed cost investment that imperils many brick and mortar retailers.
Now, we read today in the New York Times that Borders will be opening 25 pop-up stores for this holiday season. It seems that pop-up stores have become all the rage in retail. The Borders case seems quite interesting, because we all know the severe challenges facing brick and mortar booksellers today. However, perhaps Borders will discover that there is an opportunity for a physical space to be useful on a temporary basis during the holiday season to drive gift purchases.
More broadly, pop-up stores might be useful for more than just driving sales (or building marketing buzz, as Target has used pop-up stores to do in places such as Manhattan). Pop-up stores might be fertile ground for low cost, low risk, fast experimentation that could drive innovation in these retailers. Therein lies the true long term potential of a smart pop-up store strategy.