Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pop-Up Retail

Here's a fine little read about the move toward small, fleeting retail stores called pop-ups. Angela Gaimari writes in "Retail Square Footage Down, Cool Factor Up" that the new 'boutiques' are curated 'small worlds' that carry a designer's message.
Flash backwards: I was in Dillard's earlier today to look for a pair of basic black slacks. I have to say I love old fashioned department stores. I remember B. Altman and Best & Co. , both now gone from their New York Fifth Ave. locations. There was a magic about department stores, a way 'to be' in these stores where saleswomen wore unobtrusive black and might even call you when new items arrived. I could have spent all my days in these places and I headed in that direction right out of college when I went to work at Bloomingdale's at Lexington and 59th.
Bcck to today. I hadn't been in Dillard's for a year or two and I'd forgotten how much I love their handbag department. Could have left the store with at least three leather bags. Love their shoe department and I did indeed find a pair of basic slacks with a tucking detail at the knees. Made in Romania, not China.
All of which brings me back to pop-up stores and for that matter, pop-up art galleries. Certainly, they hold immediately gratification for the 'new' and stir up the 'surprise me' factor. Last year I felt that 'Second Seating' surprised a lot of people and I really wanted to find another space and continue on with that notion of a pop-up gallery/gathering place. Somehow seems to me to be a lot more fulfilling to create an environment and invite folks to partake than to make individual works of art. I like the mix, the place making of the process and then sharing it and watching the response.
So, back to retail. Maybe I did feel about department stores in the same way I feel about pop-up stores and galleries. Perhaps. Each is a stage set and we get to play.
Cruz ends her article by drawing an analogy to the music business, writing, "The big music monsters fell and supposedly the music business died,” he observes. “Funny thing happened though: a thousand little independent bands came out of nowhere and made a thousand little movements and new genres. We can thank their use of the Internet for that. So, one could argue that, creatively, music is more successful than ever, regardless of whether or not Capitol Records is making a profit. With some good curatorial skills and some Internet, I think small independent retailers and designers can do the same for fashion and design.”

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