Pop Up Shops Are an Eco Hit This Holiday Season


Everyone’s talking pops. Maybe it’s because the holiday season and its consequent consumption mania is upon us, but pop up shops are hot.

Gauging the type of brands that are taking part in this pop-up shop phenomenon, however, reveals plenty of great intentions. In fact, vacant storefronts everywhere are being tweaked into creative spaces with a good cause in tow.

Here’s the skinny: a pop-up shop is a vacant space used for a temporary retail setting, a trend EcoSalon has followed in New York where artists are making good temporary use of empty commercial spaces awaiting new tenants. The gimmick is an excellent way to give a high energy consumer shot to jolt this tired economy, but there are also several eco reasons pop-ups rock:

1. Pop-ups allow organizations to spread their message.

At the Environmental Justice Foundation’s pop up shop in London, where the term “pop-up” was coined, EJF is selling preview samples of their organic and fairly traded cotton tee shirts from the 2010 line. The t-shirts make a social statement, and are all designed around the theme of “childhood, lost innocence and hope” in order to represent the million-plus children around the globe who are forced to labor in cotton production.

2. Pop-ups give small eco-conscious brands much-needed exposure.

Portland-based company Looptworks is taking part in the pop-up trend. The brand, which launched in September, makes all of its garments with 100% upcycled garment scraps and is one of the featured lines in downtown Portland’s hip and trendy pop-up shop Flurry.


“Most eco-fashion is an attempt to do less harm in the production of clothing,” says Scott Hamlin, co-founder of Looptworks. “Many of the companies in that arena are small and trying to get exposure and sales. Pop up stores help them achieve that.”

Hamlin points out that there’s also an environmental benefit to pop-up shops, thanks to the “reduction of shoppers’ carbon footprint via utilizing empty space in a heavy traffic area.”

3. Pop-ups help spread the word about sustainability.

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For beloved eco-clothier NAU, the concept of a pop-up shop is helping the brand spread a general message of sustainability, using the retail front as a vehicle for change. As Mark Galbraith, General Manager of NAU, says, “Our intention is to integrate into each specific community using repurposed and recycled pieces and parts, work with artists, musicians, not-for profits and organizations that allow us to be part of the dialogue for positive change.”

Photo credits: Anna Brones, Anna Brones, NAU

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.