20 May 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!
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!
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!