What’s in a pop-up shop ?

Pop-up shop with David Krut Projects

David-KrutPop-up shops are becoming more and more popular for obvious reasons:

  • theoretically stock is moved quickly
  • the overheads are low
  • there’s a specific target market
  • the product can be seasonally geared
  • etc.  

However, given all this, I think that some Pop Ups work better than others. A few weeks ago I went to Opening the Drawers: a Limited Edition Print Pop Up shop with David Krut Projects held at the Parktown High School for Girls in nearby Tyrone Avenue Parkview.  This is the second such Pop Up event that David Krut has run with Ann Roberts.

Winning formula: what is it?

I spoke to artist Robyn Penn who was instrumental in organizing the first David Kurt Pop Up with Ann Roberts.  In Robyn’s view there’s a ‘winning formula’ for these events. So what is this formula?

  • Most importantly the product was superb: a wide range of great art works from both up-and-coming artists as well as established artists such as William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, Senzo Shabangu, Stephen Hobbs, Paul Stopforth, Bronwyn Findlay, Sandile Goje, Richard Penn, Robyn Penn, Diane Victor, Sam Nhlengethwa, Deborah Bell, Bonita Alice, Colbert Mashile, Nathaniel Stern, Wilma Cruise, Mary Wafer, amongst many many others.
  • In addition it was a fabulous balmy Highveld winter’s day (there’s no control over that)
  • a great space at Parktown Girls High School with courtyards, and a large hall with big tables and lots of space to see the works
  • live music from The Runaway Train Cult
  • a couple of food trucks providing sustenance and drinks
  • a great child activity area where kids could make collages … leaving parents to enjoy a convivial social time around tables in the sun
  • and most importantly for the organizers …. child free time to browse and buy.

What more could you need?

A winning formula always includes space in the winter sun and chilled live music
A winning formula always includes space in the winter sun and chilled live music Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse
Various pop-up food stalls
Various pop-up food stalls Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse








I think there are a couple of other factors which made this such a successful event:

  • Central to consumer psychology seems to be the act of seeing what other people are buying – a little bit like the behaviour of a dog with a bone; or a child suddenly needing a toy when a sibling starts playing with it, even though she has been unaware of its existence for months. I watched people as they overheard someone at their side picking up an artwork and saying: ‘Isn’t this stunning? Should we buy it? ’
  • And then adding greater incentive and reassurance by discussing why they liked it. This both sparks interest and validates any choices – rather like chatter at the communal mirror in the women’s change room at a clothing-store. The only difference being that the artwork looks the same whoever holds it up!
  • The communal buying space also feeds into the psychology of being left out. FOMO of the real artefact. ‘This is the last work in the edition – if I don’t buy it somebody else might and I will lose out’.

Also browsing is made easy

Ann Roberts said of this Pop Up event: ‘We want to make art accessible to a broader market so that anybody can have a piece on their walls. … it’s not really a gallery. It’s the antithesis of a gallery in the sense that there [are] no walls and nothing hanging’.  And this explains another factor for the success of the event – the browsing experience is not alienating.

Plus you can handle the artworks

A wonderful space where all the works were laid out on tables
A wonderful space where all the works were laid out on tables Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse









  • All the works are laid out on tables; fully protected so that the buyer can pick them up; (what gallery allows you to handle the artwork?)
  • the prices are on the back so one doesn’t have to keep asking ‘How much is this?’ or peer myopically at a label
  • one can get an overall sense of everything available – nothing in stacks one has to flip through one at a time- and then one can return at will to anything of interest.

And you can get to speak to some artists

  • Several of the artists were present – there is nothing like having a lived sense of the author or artist to motivate buying a book or an art work. It seems to make the product more personally meaningful, more accessible, and more desirable – hence the success of book launches and book signings.

And best of all – it’s a one stop shop

  • And finally the pièce de résistance:  there were framers on site who on purchase, would immediately measure, quote and take orders for framing … so ‘cementing’ the purchase(s) and making it all too late for any buyer’s remorse.

All in all – a great winning formula.  So make sure you get to David Krut and Ann Roberts’ next Pop Up event. It’s a great way to have easy access to a large number of works by well-known South African artists and you don’t even have to buy – much as I was tempted by several works … I resisted!

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