Entrepreneur Pop-Ups in the Caribbean – For the Season and Beyond

Author: Sonja Dumas

Entrepreneur

Last week, we told you about the potential of Caribbean-run online stores, especially those entrepreneurs selling nostalgia.  However, there’s also a commercial phenomenon in the physical world that bears attention. They are what could be called part-time or temporary retail outlets, otherwise known as pop-up shops. While pop-up shops have been in the U.S. since the late 1990s, we all know that all those bake sales in schools and places of worship are pop-ups in their own right.  But pop-up shops featuring artesian goods are a more recent occurrence in the Caribbean.

Pop-up shops give vendors access to clientele without the accompanying brick and mortar costs. So, without having to enter into a long-term lease or mortgage, micro-entrepreneurs can test the waters with new products, build brand awareness, increase sales of existing products, or hitch a ride on the seasonal sale bandwagon – especially during heavy retail periods like Christmas (do I smell designer paime or sorrel-flavoured ponche de crème or ponche de creme-flavoured cookies???) 🤤

In Trinidad and Tobago, the most well-known pop-up is Upmarket, an almost-monthly food and craft market founded by Janet Bloom Fabre. According to the UpMarket website, their main objective “is to offer local artisans and small businesses an opportunity to showcase and sell their craft to the public on a consistent basis while networking with similar entrepreneurs.” It’s retail spaces like Upmarket that accommodate the micro or small creative producers of goods.

In Grenada, Kisha Miller, who organizes pop-up shops around the island and also produces her own line of natural skincare products 🧼 through her company Living Essentials, cites the Christmas season as one of the busiest times of the year.

Even though there are no permanent brick and mortar costs, the venue rentals can still be high for the event organizer who has to rent the entire venue. For the individual vendor renting a table or similar space, the cost can also vary, but usually starts around US$40 for one eight-hour day. Not a bad price to pay for market expansion.

And what really sells?  According to Miller, the health and well-being segment of the market seems to be thriving – from natural skincare products to vegan and Halal foods, to jewelry made from recycled materials.

The gift of these pop-ups is that they allow the smaller entrepreneur without a storefront to connect with potential customers and sell unique artisanal products face-to-face, which is especially appealing during Christmas. ‘Tis the season!

Lastly, a little gift for you: Shopify’s ideas, tips and lessons on ways you can create a pop-up shop.

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