The Auburn Mall is running a contest to bring out the community’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
For the first time, the mall will provide one business applicant with retail space for a pop-up shop, advertising and $1,000 to customize their space, said Coles Doyle, marketing director for Hull Property Group who owns the mall.
The winning business will occupy the space from Nov. 25 to Jan. 7, which will give them access to the mall’s high levels of holiday foot traffic.
The space is 2,000 square feet, but the back portion can be walled off to make a 1,200 square-foot space if requested. There are no restrictions on the type of business that can apply, Doyle said.
“We’re looking for someone who has a vision for a brick-and-mortar store,” Doyle said. “[The mall is] pretty open to different ideas.”
The only requirement for the winning business is to merchandise and pilot the store for the full six-week period.
The pop-up shop owner has the option to rent the space after the six-week contest period, if the business proved to be successful in the brick-and-mortar environment, Doyle said.
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The concept of a pop-up shop in itself is a relatively new concept. It allows for businesses to test markets and concepts without paying for a permanent location, said Franz Lohrke, professor of entrepreneurship at Auburn University.
“One major obstacle that most startups face is the ability to pay ‘fixed costs’ like rent,” Lohrke said. “An entrepreneur doesn’t have to sign a multi-year lease for a retail space.”
Many pop-up shops, much like in the one in the Auburn Mall’s competition, are seasonal. This allows for the business to get the high foot traffic of a mall without having to pay a monthly rent.
The temporary shops can also offer a more fun or interesting experience. They also utilize the customer’s fear of missing out, since the shop stays for a finite amount of time, Lohrke said.
“Entrepreneurs need to take the customer feedback and decide if it’s worth making a major investment in a business,” Lohrke said. “They generally are a stepping stone toward starting and growing a firm.”
The winner will be announced on Oct. 1 and begin transforming the space soon after.
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