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Customers can get a tactile experience trying on glasses at Warby Parker's shop in New York City. (NPR)

It's Boom Times For Pop-Up Shops As Mobile Shopping Clicks

Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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A pop-up sale in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Dave Gilboa is co-founder of Warby Parker, the primarily online eyewear store. Warby Parker experimented with a variety of pop-up locations before settling into a longer-term lease.

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Fast-rising mobile technology is making buying stuff with a tap of an app easier than ever, and shifting the way we shop. What were once permanent, brick-and-mortar stores, where shoppers look at items in a physical space, are now often pop-ups, first — shops that last for a limited time only.

Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces that spring up in unused premises. Leases can last as short as a single day, when brands use the spaces for a promotional event instead of testing out a market.

"As long as they can change it back, they can do whatever they want," says Joe LaPadula. He works for OpenHouse, a company that owns storefronts in the always fashion-forward Soho neighborhood in New York.

These days, the pop-up concept is proliferating in trendy, high-foot-traffic neighborhoods like SoHo.

"Pop-ups, or this idea of selling something for a temporary period of time, has been around since human trade has been around," says LaPadula. OpenHouse rents its storefronts out for retail, promotional events, exhibits — whatever clients need.

Today, an old subway stop in SoHo is a place to get designer pants at 40 percent off. On other days, it's a test kitchen and bar. Next week, it might host a press event. The one thing this place doesn't do is anything permanent.

"With food trucks becoming more and more open and available, and the kind of migration of bringing that, I actually think that pop-up shops kind of followed suit," says Los Angeles-based retail industry consultant Syama Meagher. She's been watching pop-up retailing develop for the last half decade.

As consumers do more and more on mobile devices, short-term leases promised by pop-ups mean brands can be more mobile, too — moving around to where their customers cluster.

"Larger online brands are bridging together these empty spaces and starting to find ways to get in front of their customers," says Meagher.

The old retail world meant long-established brands existed first in brick-and-mortar stores. Then, they expanded online. Now, the model is flipped.

"The business model is innovative in a way, and that's because you can now start a company on Internet, and there's this intermediate step between a brick-and-mortar where you pop-up and have this tactile, real experience," says LaPadula.

That "clicks-to-bricks" model, as the marketing folks call it, is exactly what happened with the eyewear brand, Warby Parker.

"When we launched, we had no plans to open physical stores, so we're kind of learning as we go along," says Dave Gilboa, a Warby Parker co-founder.

Just as food trucks let potential restaurants test their menus and find an audience, the pop-up shop serves as a modern-day lab for retailers. The four-year-old company first learned by using the co-founders' apartment as a showroom. They also experimented with a traveling bus full of eyeglass frames before opening a series of holiday pop-up shops in SoHo.

"It was just kind of a fun space for us to really experiment," Gilboa says.

While you can easily buy Warby Parker frames without ever stepping foot into a store — and many people do — the glasses brand found that many of its customers still crave a physical experience. So what were once Warby Parker pop-ups have become something permanent.

The company now has three sprawling New York locations, with long-term leases, something the original business plan never anticipated.

"There's still something tangible that you can't replace, when you're walking into store, engaging all five senses," Gilboa says.

The shopping options now before us engage not just all our senses, but all our spaces — real-life and virtual.

"You're going to have a chance to experience brands unlike you have before. Being that they're going to be in your hands, in your face and in your minds and on your phone all at once, and all at one time," says consultant Syama Meagher.

A lot for customers to consider.

And for the brands, experimenting with spaces that don't last ... can lead to a lasting business.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Customers can get a tactile experience trying on glasses at Warby Parker's shop in New York City. (NPR)

In Colo., An Effort To Ease Court Confusion Over Same-Sex Marriage

by Megan Verlee
Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered / Colorado Public Radio)

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A pop-up sale in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Dave Gilboa is co-founder of Warby Parker, the primarily online eyewear store. Warby Parker experimented with a variety of pop-up locations before settling into a longer-term lease.

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The Colorado attorney general has asked the state's Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages. As Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee reports, he's trying to have the matter both ways — dropping his opposition to lawsuits against the state's gay marriage ban, while still pushing the courts to continue enforcing it.

Copyright 2014 Colorado Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.cpr.org.

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Customers can get a tactile experience trying on glasses at Warby Parker's shop in New York City. (NPR)

After 5 Weeks Of Haggling, Congress Inks Bipartisan VA Bill

Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered / Colorado Public Radio)

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A pop-up sale in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Dave Gilboa is co-founder of Warby Parker, the primarily online eyewear store. Warby Parker experimented with a variety of pop-up locations before settling into a longer-term lease.

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Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Customers can get a tactile experience trying on glasses at Warby Parker's shop in New York City. (NPR)

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut, Sometimes You Just Drive One

by Alex Schmidt
Jul 28, 2014 (All Things Considered / Colorado Public Radio)

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A pop-up sale in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Dave Gilboa is co-founder of Warby Parker, the primarily online eyewear store. Warby Parker experimented with a variety of pop-up locations before settling into a longer-term lease.

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After graduation, Mason Kerwick landed a nutty job — quite literally. For the next year, he'll drive the Planters Peanut Nutmobile, marketing the peanut brand. His first assignment? Driving the peanut-shaped truck into New York City for Macy's July Fourth parade.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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A family checks in for an American Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (Getty Images)

House Votes To End Full-Fare Rule For Airline Tickets

Jul 28, 2014 (Colorado Public Radio)

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A pop-up sale in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City. Dave Gilboa is co-founder of Warby Parker, the primarily online eyewear store. Warby Parker experimented with a variety of pop-up locations before settling into a longer-term lease.

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The House voted Monday to allow airlines to advertise lower prices for their routes.

The Transparent Airfares Act, which was approved with minimal debate, would overturn a 2012 rule that requires airlines to post the full price of tickets, including taxes and fees.

Shoppers are smart enough to figure out the price of an airline ticket without federal regulation, said Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, a bill cosponsor.

"Talk about the nanny state," he said. "Give me a break. What do they think, Americans are idiots?"

Consumer groups oppose the legislation. Prior to implementation of the rule, airlines would often "hide" the cost of taxes and fees in small print in advertising or down at the bottom of Web pages.

That gave the impression you could fly for a lot less than the actual total cost.

"Before the full-fare rule went into effect, it wasn't uncommon to find an attractive ticket price — say, $299 for a transatlantic flight — but once taxes, fuel surcharges and other fees were added, the total fare came to $899," notes travel writer Christopher Elliott in The Washington Post. "That price was revealed only at the end of the booking process, frustrating passengers."

Despite quick action, it's not clear that the bill — which is supported by the airline industry and transportation unions — will have much life in the Senate.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has introduced what he calls the Real Transparency in Airfares Act, which would double maximum penalties to $55,000 per day for airlines and major ticket sellers that don't post the full fare.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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