Jo Fairley is co-owner of Judges organic bakery and grocery shop in Hastings and co-founded and sold Green & Black’s chocolate firm, with hubby Craig Sams
’Pop-up shops’ are the retail buzz, right now. As bricks-and-mortar stores strive to compete with online sales, the swiftest way to add a little pizzazz to a retail offering is to showcase someone else’s wares for a day, a week, a couple of months to excite customers and keep them coming back to see what’s hip and happening. At the top end of the scale, you’ve got leathergoods brand Hermès at Liberty, the mini-Barbie store at the achingly hip Dover Street Market or the Icecreamists (an extraordinary punk ice-cream boutique), which had queues through the basement of Selfridges.
And, in the past 18 months, Judges Bakery our Hastings artisan bakery has popped up in several places, too; in Selfridges first of all where we installed our own display for bread, muesli and our famous pink meringue pigs, which had won us Daily Candy’s Sweetest Thing award; then who’d have thought it? Topshop asked us if we’d plonk ourselves down in the middle of that other Oxford Street fashion emporium for London Fashion Week, to tempt shoppers with our brownies, flapjacks and oat-and-ginger cookies. Although logistically challenging as Topshop is 60 miles from our doorstep we leapt at the opportunity, although with hindsight, trying to sell calorific treats to girls wanting to fit into flimsy dresses designed by Kate Moss wasn’t such a great idea, but it was probably worth it for the PR value alone.
Now, our bakery looks poised to open another little pop-up one which, in time, could prove much more commercially interesting in the centre of our home town, with much more footfall than we currently enjoy in the quaint Old Town. We will be partnering with another ’eco’ retailer, where our organic baked goods can sit happily. For them it’s a chance to boost traffic; for us, it’s a way of seeing whether another outlet would work for us, for very little investment. We already own most of the props and fittings required, because we ’rotate’ what’s in our flagship shop to maintain excitement there and daily deliveries can initially be made by taxi, without the need for our own van. We can maximise production in the bakery, without adding to our overheads.
Yes, the owner will have to immerse herself in our bakery for a few days to learn to tell her baguettes from her bloomers. Yes, we’ll have to spend some time creating the right ’look’ in our section of the store. But for zero rent we’ll absorb her wastage, at least until she learns what sells and what doesn’t we get a foot in the door of a fresh retail outlet for three months, to test the waters in another location.