5 Portable Pop Up Shops You Can Create with a Shipping Container

As the economy has changed and the world dealt with a pandemic, many small business owners found different ways to handle their businesses. People became more and more mobile and developed new ways to take their businesses with them. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see a portable pop up shop in various parts of town. These little stores and business fronts often use steel containers to host their products. Read on to learn more about what a container popup shop is, how it works, and different examples that you may see in your town or other cities.

Why Open a Pop up Shop

The question isn’t why open a pop-up shop. The question really should be why not? A pop-up shop isn’t limited to someone operating a small business. Even if you have a larger brick-and-mortar store or operation, you could utilize a container store for events and promotions. Opening a portable pop up shop is perfect for someone living a digital nomadic life who wants to sell products no matter where they live.

The past few years have brought a lot of uncertainty to the world. It wasn’t uncommon to see many businesses fold up permanently and never return, even once the world opened up after COVID. One of the reasons many businesses closed even before COVID was because of the cost of commercial real estate. Unfortunately, real estate prices, both on the commercial and residential end, have not gone down in the United States. Matter of fact, there is a housing crisis brewing across the country thanks to rising rents and mortgages.

Many businesses with a flow of customers and good profits may still struggle to stay open because of landlords raising the price of leases. Sometimes developers want to convert an existing building to expensive condos. So otherwise thriving entrepreneurs can end up losing their business space because of developers or the cost of the lease. Opting for a portable pop up shop can give an existing small business owner a sense of ease by not having to worry about the uncertainty of leasing and other real estate issues.

Festivals and conferences aren’t only fun times for drinking, partying, and music. These large events also provide opportunities for portable pop up shops to gain business. After all, many people will be in the same area for days or weeks at a time.

Cost of Commercial Space

As mentioned earlier, the cost of leasing or buying commercial space can be astronomical. For a new small business owner, getting an ideal space for their products or services may not be realistic in the current economy. However, renting or buying a container pop up shop allows them to have a designated workspace without breaking the bank trying to get funding for a lease or competing with other businesses that have more capital.

If you decide to purchase a steel container instead of just renting one, that’ll be an economical way to always have a solid structure for your business or office. Plus, if you own the container, you could always make permanent modifications when you hire the right utilities and contractors to do work on it. When you own your own container store, you’re not obligated to be in one location for your business. Pop up containers are portable so you can always move them to a new location.

Sometimes business traffic can change. A once thriving neighborhood or business district may become a desert zone if other businesses close up shop due to a bad local or national economy. Plus some places thrive during different seasons. A good example is Anchorage, AK, which is a popular place for tourists during the summer and early winter. However, during the extremely cold winter months of December and January, it’s the low season when many businesses close. If you’re in a seasonal area, you can move your container shop there when the season is thriving and then move it to another location once the season ends.

Test How Retail Works

If you normally run an online business or are getting into your own small business for the first time, using a portable pop up shop gives you the chance to test how retail works. Even if you have the money for a permanent lease in a regular commercial space, you may not want to take that chance due to the volatile market. Using a portable pop up shop for your location allows you to see if retail and dealing with customers face-to-face is right for you. If you decide it’s not an experience that you like, you can always stop renting your container or sell it to someone else and go back to the online space for your business.

Considerations for a Pop up Shop

When renting or owning a container pop up shop, there are many ways you can alter it to your liking. Hire a local electrician to install professional lights to highlight your products. You can also hire HVAC services to ensure your containers stay cool in summer and warm in winter. Plus, due to the nature of a steel container, it has a great insulating ability, so it’s easy for you and other customers to be comfortable inside them.

Even when you’re operating from a pop up shop, you must still protect your business as you would in any other space. Don’t forget to buy small business insurance to protect yourself, your products, and your services from liability. Steel containers are very durable and can withstand high winds up to 100 mph. However, in case your products become damaged or theft happens, you should still have some insurance to cover your loss.

Regardless of the type of business you’re running, you’ll need to handle trash management. It’s easy to rent a roll off container for as long as you need it. Whether you’ll be in your pop up container business for a week, a month, or a year, you can rent roll off containers to ensure you have proper sanitation around your business.

Custom Signs

According to Newsroom, over 76% of store customers will go into a store based on its signage. Are you a designer that specializes in making custom signs for clients and other small businesses? If so, you may want to consider a portable container business since you may not need too much space beyond a few printing and laminating machines. You can place your local sign shop in a busy business area or near a Business School to gain more relevant clients. Custom signs provide ongoing advertising for other businesses since they only need to buy it once and can keep reusing it.

1. Hair Business

Sometimes a man or a woman needs to get their hair done and they don’t need a large fancy space to do that. They simply need a hairdresser or a barber who knows what they’re doing. Instead of renting a chair in another person’s shop, try opening a portable barber shop in an area with a lot of male clientele that may walk in off the street. For example, take advantage of sports seasons and move your barber shop near a football stadium, arena, or baseball field and offer discounts for new customers who walk in. Since your barber shop is portable, you can always move it to follow different game locations or seasonal sports.

Since it’s graduation and wedding season, any professional or talented hairdresser wanting to get their big break should consider renting a pop up beauty salon. You can encourage new customers by offering discounts. You can bring in more business by partnering with someone who does nails, and you can both offer your services in the same portable pop up shop.

2. Eyewear

According to Aetna, adults should get eye exams every one or two years unless they have a family history of vision problems. Unfortunately, people may not always think about going to the optometrist separately from their regular medical practitioner unless they’re experiencing eye problems. However, when you open your portable eye glass shop, you can promote your business and provide a needed service by offering free or discounted eye exams to first-time customers. Just make sure you have an optometrist available to do those examinations.

In addition to eyeglasses for vision, you can also sell fashionable sunglasses. Stylish shades always go over well with people. If you’re in a hot climate or decide to have your pop-up eyeglass shop in summer, you can do very good business when you’re in the right location. Consider placing your pop up shop in a busy shopping district, near a mall, a festival, or an outdoor market.

3. Accessories

Consider the type of accessories you plan to sell when opening and promoting your portable pop-up shop. Unless you can place your container store in an area with a high level of security, you may want to avoid filling your pop up container with diamonds, gold, and other expensive jewelry items. The past few years have seen a rise in very blatant daytime robberies in many stores around the country. So a pop up container that hosts a jewelry store in the middle of a deserted or unprotected area may be vulnerable unless you have the right protection.

4. Collectible Coins

There is certainly a market for collectible coins if you’ve always dreamt of opening a coin shop. However, when opening antique coin stores, you should exhibit the same security concerns mentioned above regarding jewelry stores. You don’t want your coin shop to be a target for thieves looking for a priceless mint-condition coin or cash.

5. Art Gallery

The days when a professional artist had to move to New York City or Paris are long gone. While these cities may still be great creative hotspots, they’re no longer the only gig in town. If you’re a professional artist that needs space to work and sell their art, you should seriously consider renting or buying a steel container for your business. Running your business from a steel container also puts more power in your hands. You can own a gallery that houses your work. So instead of waiting for a big gallery to discover you or give you a chance, you can organically promote yourself and put your artwork out there in a busy traffic area where you may get clientele. In your business by hosting art shows. With a big enough container space, you could also host the very popular “Sip n Paint’ events that can bring in additional cash flow and introduce you to potential clients that may buy your work.

Promoting Your Portbale Business

Now that you have an idea of the variety of businesses that can thrive in a portable pop-up container, you may wonder about promotion. So how can you promote a business that’s never in the same location? Not having a permanent address may have been a problem years ago, before social media. Today, people are so attached to their cell phones, that every alert regarding breaking international news or where the popular local food truck will be today can be available in seconds. As you build out your business and your container shop, you take as much time to build out your social media profiles and engage your customers. When you meet people in person at your business, give them a flyer or a business card with your social media handle so they can always keep track of where you’re at.

This list is just some of the business possibilities you can have with a portable pop up shop. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or a larger company wanting to test the waters in different locations, a portable container shop might be for you.

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