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Sweet Bake Shop Book
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Hosting a Bakery Pop-Up Shop

Hello, hello! I hope that you’re enjoying your weekend, wherever you are! Today I want to talk about pop-up shops – more specifically, bakery pop-up shops. I’ve had a lot of questions come my way regarding how I plan, what sweets I sell, how to draw customers and so on, so I’m dedicating a blog post to the topic in hopes of helping you to navigate this process. Below are 8 things that I check off of my list, one by one, each and every time I’ve popped up. Of course, I’m speaking solely from my experience here and what has worked for me may not work for everyone 🙂

So refill your coffee, get comfy and here we go!

Find a Location

Unless you’re planning on setting up a table on the side of the road, lemonade-stand-style (lots of love for those little stands!), you will need to find a location to host your pop-up shop! Department stores have worked well for me in the past, but starting wherever you can to gain exposure is great. Something I’ve learned in business over the years is that it never hurts to ask a company if they would be interested in collaborating or having you pop-up in their space – the worst thing that they can say is ‘no’, so send that email or make that phone call! Whatever space you end up in, make sure that you’re in a clear and obvious location, not tucked into a back corner somewhere, as you want people to be able to find you easily.

Build, Rent or Purchase a Display Stand

What sort of display stand you end up choosing can depend on a number of things: how much floor space you’ll have available to use, what type of sweets you’ll be selling and finally, what is expected of you from the Visuals Department (if there is one) at the place you’ll be popping up in. All of that aside, I feel that this is so important to tell you this, no matter how obvious it may seem: whatever display stand you choose, make sure that it is easy to transport! My first pop-up shop was at Nordstrom and we decided to use my big, extremely heavy, extremely fragile, Italian marble-topped counters from my shop. While they were absolutely beautiful, they were an enormous pain to transport, even through loading bays and elevators – no fun! When it was time to pop up again at another location, I decided that something had to be done, so we built folding, collapsable wood counters that we painted a glossy white and topped with acrylic shelving – all of which fits into the back of an SUV. Oh my goodness. So much easier. Trust me when I say that your back will thank you for a stand that is easy to transport!

Create a Menu

The next step is to create a menu, or a list of desserts you’ll be selling. When you’re doing this, keep in mind the type of storage and stand you’ll be using to sell your sweets. For example, you can’t sell ice cream sandwiches without a freezer to keep them in, nor can you sell desserts that require refrigeration (like cheesecakes) without a fridge. If you just so happen to have those things available at your pop-up location, that’s great! If not, stick to the easier stuff. A good variety of sweets and/or flavours is always lovely. For example, at my most recent pop-up, we sold macarons, cupcakes, sugar cookies, shortbread, sandwich cookies and unicones. However, if you only sell one or two types of dessert, be sure to include a variety of flavours of each, so that the customer has more options to choose from.

Bake What You Can in Advance 

This only applies to some baked goods. For example, my sugar cookies have a 2-3 week shelf life, and are usually decorated in detail, so I like to start those a few days before the pop-up to allow enough drying and packaging time. Same goes for macarons – they are usually best after a day or two resting in the refrigerator (building that moisture and flavour!) in an airtight container, so getting a head-start on those will not only save you time on the day of your pop-up, but will also ensure optimum taste and texture. There are other items you can prepare early, too: scoops of cookie dough on baking sheets (wrapped up and ready-to-bake in the fridge/freezer), meringues, the list goes on. Certain sweets that I never, ever bake early, though, are cupcakes. I always bake them same-day, even if it means getting up in the middle of the night to start baking them. Quality over quantity!

Have Appropriate Packaging & Business Cards

I’ve always loved and appreciated good packaging – it’s the first thing that someone notices before discovering what’s inside and first impressions are so important. When I started baking professionally, I made sure that my budget would allow enough wiggle room for pink, on-brand packaging (Georgette Packaging was and is still a favourite of mine). However, nice (and especially custom) packaging can be pricey, so at the very least, be sure to have boxes, containers and/or bags for your customers to carry their sweets away in. If the packaging is pretty, that’s a bonus! Also important are business cards, as you want customers to be able to remember and find you again! There are so many companies online that can print these for you (JukeBox, ClubCard, VistaPrint, HotCards, etc. etc.) at a decent price, so shop around until you find what works best for you.

Prepare Payment Options

Your customers are going to want to pay you for your desserts, so don’t forget to provide them with a way to do so! I always carry a cash drawer with plenty of change, but I also use a portable payment system that allows customers to pay with credit cards, too. There are a few options out there, Square being a great one for small businesses. But of course, taking cash only will do, too – just don’t forget that change drawer!

Promote Your Pop-up Shop

Letting people know when and where you’ll be popping up is crucial! If you don’t already have a social media account for your baking, start one. Using your social platform to promote yourself, your desserts and your business is a great way to let customers know where you’ll be and what you’ll be selling. Bonus: your customers may even take photos of the desserts they purchase and tag you in the photos, which is just lovely! Additionally, if you are already working with a PR company, have them send out a news/press release – the more people who know about your pop-up, the better!

Bring Help

It’s always nice to have someone to help you set up and lend a hand with customers, especially if you have a lot of desserts! Call in favours from trusted friends and family, especially the extra-strong ones to help carry those heavier items. Most likely, those friends will probably be perfectly happy being paid in cupcakes or a bottle of wine, which is just perfect!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Tessa xo

All above photos of past pop-ups *excluding macarons + cupcakes* taken by Sparkle Media, who always stops by our pop-ups to say hello & lend a hand – thank you!

  • Jessica
    Posted at 12:20h, 20 May Reply

    Love your brand !!
    Thanks Tessa

  • Mary Alton
    Posted at 13:00h, 20 May Reply

    This is so great, Tessa! Thanks for sharing!

  • Justine
    Posted at 13:03h, 20 May Reply

    Thanx for sharing all that you do it is so nice. Just wondering where your dotted apron is from ?

    • Tessa
      Posted at 17:57h, 20 May Reply

      It’s from a company called Sugar Baby Aprons 🙂

  • Melissa
    Posted at 13:48h, 20 May Reply

    Hi Tessa! I can’t believe what perfect timing this Blog was, as I’m planning my first pop up shop!! Yay!! I do have a question, do you pay for the spot in the store you pop up in?
    Thank you so much for sharing your advis on this subject, I’m so excited to set up my shop! You are a huge inspiration to me!

    • Tessa
      Posted at 18:00h, 20 May Reply

      Hi Melissa, so exciting!! Every store is different – some will charge a flat fee, some a percentage of sales and others are free – be sure to ask them in your initial email 🙂

  • Jess Fogerty
    Posted at 16:46h, 20 May Reply

    I’ve been waiting for this post! I’ve done a few pop ups, but nothing like this. What does that initial email usually look like?

    • Tessa
      Posted at 17:59h, 20 May Reply

      Hi Jess, I usually start by introducing myself, making sure to include social media handles for their reference, and then get right down to asking if they would be interested in a discussion around a pop-up shop – and the conversation flows from there 🙂

  • Chris
    Posted at 08:27h, 22 May Reply

    Thank you sooo very much for this post. I’ve been following in your baking footsteps for a while but didnt know how to go about pop-up shops. I needed this post in my life, very very helpful. Thanx again

  • Ariana
    Posted at 09:05h, 22 May Reply

    Hi Tessa!

    I have been stalking your blog for this post since you made mention your were going to publish it. This info is so helpful! I don’t know if you recall but I had DM’d you a few weeks ago inquiring about your display and setup. You were so helpful and have inspired us to finally do our first pop-up! We’ve secured a spot and will be having it next month on the 17th. Again, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. The fact that you are willing to share what works for you shows just how confident you are in yourself, your brand and your product. 🙂 <3

  • Michelle Vine
    Posted at 22:03h, 25 May Reply

    Hello Tessa,
    I am planning my first pop-up, so thanks for the tips. I am currently renting a commercial kitchen to bake my goods. Do you have an article or advice on how to open your own bake shoppe.

    Thanks in advance,
    Michelle V. W.

    • Tessa
      Posted at 00:00h, 04 June Reply

      Hello! I wrote a blog post last year about what it’s like to open and run a bakery – search “bakery” in the search bar at the top and it should come up 🙂

  • Meg
    Posted at 17:22h, 02 June Reply

    Hi Tessa, let me start of by saying I’m a huge fan. You have inspired me to follow my dreams. I just have a question about business licenses and permits required for a pop up like yours. Would you require one?Thank you for your time.


    • Tessa
      Posted at 15:29h, 03 June Reply

      Hi, thanks for the kind words! 🙂 If you are a business, you should have a valid business license, regardless. Regarding permits (at least here in Vancouver) it depends. Everything has to have been pre-packaged in a licensed commercial kitchen, or else you need to obtain a permit from the health department (here that can be tricky but it’s also doable) to be able to package food on-site.

  • Leanne P.
    Posted at 23:32h, 03 June Reply

    Thank you for this post. Your baking is beautiful and you’re sugar cookie recipe is now my go-to! How do you know how much to make in advance and not sel out too early? I feel like that’s my biggest question with doing a pop up shop or vendor sale, and I’m planning on joining a holiday vendor sale in December, but have no idea how much to make because I’ve never done this before. Thank you! I cannot wait for your book to come out!!

  • Shupi Mapuranga
    Posted at 13:31h, 04 May Reply

    Hi Tessa, I absolutely love your aesthetic, your products are so gorgeous! I was just curious if you found a template/instructions for your collapsible counter and if you could share that with us 🙂 I have a stand at my local farmers market but I wanted to make something much cuter than a simple table but something easy enough to transport in my SUV.

  • Kathy Miller Taylor
    Posted at 22:10h, 11 May Reply

    Timing is everything. I am planning my first pop-up for June 8th and it will be in a art gallery. yikes. I’m kinda nervous now because I don’t have a pop-up stand and I think just regular tables wont do in this venue. I have no idea where to start even thinking about making one. I do plan to ask the owner of the gallery what is expectations are as well.

    Any suggestions you have are welcomed.

  • Kathy Taylor
    Posted at 22:11h, 11 May Reply

    Timing is everything. I am planning my first pop-up for June 8th and it will be in a art gallery. yikes. I’m kinda nervous now because I don’t have a pop-up stand and I think just regular tables wont do in this venue. I have no idea where to start even thinking about making one. I do plan to ask the owner of the gallery what is expectations are as well.

    Any suggestions you have are welcomed.

  • ashley
    Posted at 02:34h, 17 September Reply

    hey Tessa

    Okay so I love your post and how you broke down into so much detail. Where do I start though ? besides the fact of reaching out to the department stores? what else should I keep in mind to have ? permit? kitchen to bake the things at?

  • Hannah Smith
    Posted at 08:17h, 30 September Reply

    Helpful tips. So appreciate you sharing. Thanks

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