Patrick Courrielche is credited as the “parent of pop-up” retail by real estate titan CBRE’s industry magazine, IN_retail:
By Sean Kelly
You can almost hear the clarion calls of delight from the nation’s malls and high streets. Pop-up stores and so-called ‘flash retailing’ are now a significant part of the retail firmament.
The fast retail sales sector has come a long way since arts-based marketing and publicity executive Patrick Courrielche, who is generally credited as the parent of pop-up, launched the Ritual Expo event in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Courrielche effectively brought a generation of short notice, word-of-mouth trunk and sample sales out of the closet and injected independence, immediacy and excitement into retailing.
“In 1997 I started doing pop-up stores in Los Angeles for hard-to-find youth clothing manufacturers,” he recalls. “Some of our early clients used them as hybrid sample sales and marketing vehicles. Their marketing budgets were minimal, the internet wasn’t what it is today and they saw our one-day ‘hipster malls’, as they were starting to be called, as a perfect vehicle to reach the cool kids.”
“Because we were [in] uncharted territory, large brands were a bit sceptical about getting involved at first,” he says. “That changed with the publication of [The] Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell in 2000. It was a wildly popular book within the US advertising industry that emphasised the importance of reaching the ‘influencers’ and cool kids in selling a company’s products. It wasn’t long after that larger companies like Levi Strauss, AT&T and Motorola began seeing pop-up stores as interesting, non- traditional advertising vehicles to reach cultural influencers. So pop-ups changed from small companies marketing their products in a cost-effective way to large companies testing and/or seeding their products with cultural influencers.”
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