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A quick scan of friends reveals the pop-up shop concept is hot – and the municipal/real estate sector is busily and happily manoeuvring around the complexities.

Not a book, not a nursery rhyme, but just as quirky and cute in their innocent snub of conventional big-boy businesses – the “pop-up” is alive and well here in Adelaide.

After only a couple of months in SA we’ve seen not far from our home several clothing, furniture, artist and market locations “pop-up”. Best recent examples have been Naomi Murrell’s clothing, furniture and jewellery concept store on Ebenezer Place and Splash Adelaide’s spontaneous urban retreat sites of deck chairs, lawn grass, and salad trucks.

What is a pop-up store and why is it related to sustainability?

Well, does the thought of a more sustainable lifestyle make you sad? Is your view that it is about frugality, difficult choices and doing without. “We have to make it fun!” is a common catch-cry.

Making something fun by force is largely impossible. What IS fun is when we are inventive, creative, perhaps a little naughty and we make an effort to connect with what other people are yearning for. It’s what you, the “new” consumer is actively seeking – being happy, socially responsible, buying better and buying less. Does this resonate?

Current retail delivers big on the dopamine – hits of colour, metallics, massive scale and major distraction – but little on the rest. For an increasing number of us (and the latest BBMG report on how consumers will revolutionize brands and sustainability claims there are 70 million US consumers alone who are changing ways) big retail is going the way of big-agriculture and fast food.

We now want slow……and…..local……food. Someone to talk to in a shop. Something we have procured from someone else, often something that THEY made !

We want economical items, things that connect us to our values.  A few years ago we learnt from farmers markets that you engage in 10x more conversations shopping for food there than a supermarket. A pop-up store is like a farmers market of conventional retail.

Pop-ups are usually small producers who don’t want/can’t afford overheads of a permanent store. We want those stories, we want to help build that kind of community. We want to hear from people whose friends decorate and supply furniture for their store. We want to participate, to co-create something desirable that is also socially responsible. Bring us the pallet furniture, the student portrait artist, the online interior designer who lives around the corner.

Perhaps the cynic could say it’s like a craft fair or a chip van. But it’s not like that at all.

There’s more sharing, participation and storytelling. And ASPIRATION for something better, richer, truer.

And you don’t get that at a big box store.

Ever.