Advice & Resources

I've had enquiries from people asking how to go about setting up a pop-up shop and other pop-ups.  On this page I'm going to attempt to offer some advice and resources.  It's a work in progress - if you have any tips, or think I've got it very wrong, then please let me know.

A quick caveat - I've never run a pop-up, but I've been chronicling them for over 2 years now, and I've also spoken to people who have, and so this is a summary of what I've learnt.

(A fantastic resource is Dan Thompson's book Pop-up Business for Dummies.  It's mainly for people planning and running shops, but it's also applicable to all pop-up businesses, and is very good on the planning, the processes, legal aspects, and has some checklists too.  Would you have remembered a step ladder?  Buy the book here )

CityAM wrote a good article on 3 ways to make the most of a pop-up shop

Appear Here has a very good guide - Everything you need to know to set up shop

The Telegraph published an article giving some case studies, and some tips

On with my guide:

1 - Location

RSVP has put together a set of supper club locations in prime areas of London that they curate and would love to hear from you. They currently curate spaces in Covent Garden, Islington (near to Angel tube station), and Haggerston with new spaces soon in Spitalfields and Brixton. Contact them at for individual assistance and full venue details.

(If you fancy hosting your pop-up in another country, they also have multiple spaces in Copenhagen and Berlin!)

Other places a that regularly run pop-ups:

Taj's Tea Parlour - A space in Dalston, E8, that is looking for people passionate about food and drinks to run events and residencies - contact

The Lacy Nook in Stoke Newington - Now taking bookings for pop-ups and supperclubs to use their kitchen and space.  Includes a garden!  Contact Elena Smileva -

Kitchup have professional kitchen spaces for hire that can be used for Supper Clubs

Bones and Pearl in N15 - Gallery space available to hire


Old Truman Brewery - have had lots including Bape and Swear.  This is the link to book space.

Selfridges - again, regularly have pop-ups in store - the contact details bottom right of their website ('Contact us')

Craft Central have 3 spaces available in Clerkenwell / Farringdon to people who sell things they've crafted themselves - see details here You need to be a member to rent them, but there are lots of benefits of membership

Other agents who seem to represent properties that have been used for pop-ups in the past:

Shop Property - & this link for their temporary units

Showcase - including units in Store Street, off Tottenham Court Road


Empty Shops Network - lots of retail units, but mainly outside London

Boxpark, the shipping container mall in Shoreditch also currently has units to fill - check out their site here, and email them ( for more info.

As with all property decisions shop around as much as you can, and negotiate hard.  I heard about one retailer who got a very good deal by making a very late decision on which unit to go for.

Two agencies list spaces - try them -

Appear Here


In a more 'cooperative' vein, Meanwhile Space is a forum for people across the UK looking for and offering space to use.

Please tell people that you were referred from London Pop-ups!

1a - Art Spaces - This feels like it deserves its own section

Finding spaces to use for art projects is difficult, but Fleur, who operates a gallery space in Queens Parade, Willesden Green has produced this guide based on her experiences:

"Finding an empty space in which to run your project – be it gallery, temporary exhibition or social enterprise – can seem daunting: How do you find space. If you see an empty shop in your high street how do you find out who the landlord is? How do you approach them – can you get a lease at the right rent for your purse? However, there are tools to do this. It is possible!!
Here are some top tips drawn from my experience but also drawing on the wealth of knowledge that is out there ‘doing’ this already. You don’t have to ‘pay’ for this advice -  people actually doing this in the field will happily pass on advice and pointers to assist more people, like yourself, to create a thriving arts community."

Read on...

2 - Retail Design

You can generally do this yourself (or the unit will come with set facilities).  If you're going for something special (a specific look or effect) it might be an idea to use a designer.  

Green Room Design have lots of experience in designing pop-ups - for example they did the recent Vans pop-up in Shoreditch.  You can see other examples here

Another company to talk to is Hot Pickle.  They have done work for companies like Marmite and Maille - see their site and case studies here

Try MX Display - you can see an example of a pop-up for Space NK here

Another is Prop Studios.  They have done work for people like Anya Hindmarch - which won an award - see what they did here

Another is Unibox - details here, and case study on their work for Tom Dixon here

Also look at Ridgers and Zeus

Vintage tiling can made a premises look great.  Bert & May in E2 can rent & install tile and wood units to make your pop-up shop or restaurant look very special

Furniture can be hired from D-Zine - full detals here

Finally, if you want some signs making - including anything from hand-painted to neon signs - have a look at The Electric Sign Workshop

2a - Shipping Containers

Shipping containers have become popular things to use in pop-ups - think Boxpark, but also the Ebay pop-up shop in Covent Garden in the run up to Christmas 2012 which was created by Push, on instruction from Shine Communications.  Creator assisted with the build

Another company that can help with shipping containers is Bell Container Trading, who have a special site, Pop-up Containers, to showcase their shipping container conversions.  Have a look here.

Container Home Plans also work in this area, and created a shipping container pop-up for Wahaca in 2013 - details here

Also, try All Containers

3 - Publicity and PR

A pop-up shop or restaurant is a great hook to use to get press for your brand, so make sure you get the word out that you are offering something new and different for a limited time only.

To do this you'll need to plan in advance, magazines have long lead times so try and get a press release out as soon as possible.  Create a distribution list of all the relevant titles, but don't forget the local titles and blogs too.

If it's a shop then host events in your pop-up shop.  People wont be used to seeing you in the space so you need to work hard to let the public know your there. Definitely invite your network to a launch event and think about hosting other promotional evenings, talks, how-to events and so on.

Have a guest book, take cards from visitors (think about running a competition to get more) and have lots of your own cards to give out.

Twitter have just published a really good guide to how to use their service to promote your business - read it!

This is a good checklist (albeit American) for things you should do to promote yourself.

I think this is really good - advice for bands who aren't selling out their shows.  Substitute 'restaurant' for 'band' and it should give you lots to think about, including You Think The Venue Will Promote, and You Rely Solely on Facebook

4 - Ticketing

If you're running a supper club or restaurant you may want to pre-sell tickets so that you know how many are going to come (& you don't get too many people turning up at once).  You can even set up different sittings by creating multiple events for the same day, at slightly different times.

RSVP has resources for supper club chefs including ticketing - sign up here

5 - Drinks

If you want a bar at your event, or beer to sell, then The Meantime Brewery offer a mobile service - they can supply a bar with staff, equipment, or other options.  Contact them here for details

House of Boda are specialists in beer events and supplying alcohol and soft drinks to the trade.  Their knowledge of the beer and wider drinks industry enables them to curate and supply a full drinks list to fit into the theme of your popup, party or event.  What’s more, our relationships in the industry enables us to negotiate competitive pricing against catering companies, wholesalers, or cash-and-carry supermarkets. Contact them for more info or

6 - Food

Marky Market is a man who goes to the fresh markets very early in the morning, and so is very well set up to supply pop-up restaurants.  You can more about his service and his prices here.

Plus - see this page of resources on Safe Food Handling

6a - Kitchen Space

If you are a pop-up it might be a good idea to get some professional kitchen space for prep etc - Kitchup allows you to find a space local to you, and rent it for just as long as you need it.  Find details here.  (They also have spaces that can be used for supper clubs)

Alternatively, if you're looking for a professional fully-equipped commercial kitchen to rent in London, FoodStars have them in strategic locations across the capital. They have a network of entrepreneurial members and will help ensure you have everything you need for your business idea to become a success. Kitchens are rented privately, or through a flexible scheme where you have access at certain hours.

7 - How to Run A Supper Club or Pop-up Restaurant or Streetfood stall

This clearly needs its own long section, but rather than that I'll pass you over to people who have done it:

KERB has created a new resources section with lots of articles about how to set up a street food business - branding, pricing and more

Rachel Hugh from The Vurger Co on how to start a street food business

Sabrina Ghayour of Sabrina's Passions - How To Start Your Own Gourmet Pop-up Restaurant

Angie Ma's ten tips

Eventbrite on how to start a pop-up restaurant

Also - how to open a street food eaterie, by Melissa Loves Food

Plus - Burger Bear on what you need to run a burger stand

Plus - Anna Mae's on how to start up in street food

If you get beyond that point, here is some advice from MEATLiquor on how to progress from pop-up to permanent

Finally - some good, general advice on how to set up a bar from Nobly

8 - Payments

You can manage payments through a mobile till system - for example the AirPOS.  See their site for details.

Also, WorldPay now have a mobile version - see details here.

Another card payment solution is SumUp

9 - Common mistakes

There are some very good answers to the question 'Why do many cafes fail' on Quora. It's specifically for cafes, but the issues discussed and advice is relevant to lots of small customer-facing businesses.

E.g:  "If only people understood the truth that most cafe startups fail - then they may not be so tempted to indulge their fantasy in the first place. Failure, not so much in terms of 'closing the doors', but failure as a business concept to reward owner/managers to the same level as what their capital and time would secure from a combination of bank interest and 'working for the man'. 
For me, the #1 reason why startup cafes fail to achieve economic sustainability, is the endless supply of amateurs that fall victim to the siren's enticing call 'to own our own cafe/restaurant'. These people have no idea about how to price products that are capable of giving the owner/manager a competitive return for their long hours worked and a competitive return on their substantial investment. But their less-than-sustainable prices keeps even the good cafe operators from getting reasonable returns in the industry. So, as the rotating door of new entrants replace the outgoing haggared failures, prices remain for all participants below what is required for the industry to be a sustainable and worthwhile investment. Sure, you can extract a wage from your cafe investment but 'buying a job' is hardly the stuff of sustainable business models."

See also - '7 reasons why no one's coming to your shows' - written for bands, but could also apply to pop-ups!

10 - Empty Shops Network

The Empty Shops Network have a wiki which gives their advice on how to set up a pop-up, including writing a plan, planning a budget, finding funding, finding a space and more.  See it here

11 - Legal aspects

There are a lot of potential legal issues & pitfalls with running a pop-up (as with all sorts of business) and solicitors Poppleston Allen have produced a short summary of the issues, including licencing, health and safety and food safety, which you can read here.  They also offer a free 30 minute consultation at their offices in Holborn - see full details here.

Poppleston Allen have also produced this article on changes to planning laws and commercial use with respect to pop-ups, and this video showing you all about licencing a pop-up.

Registering a company name - Before you can start trading from your pop up, you need to make sure that your company name is correctly registered, that you have a business bank account set up and that you have all the necessary tax paper work done and dusted. This may seem quite daunting if it’s your first time forming a company as there are lots of boxes to check and it can often be time consuming and costly. The best option would be to use The Formations Company to quickly register and form your company, their cheapest package is still cheaper than doing it on your own and includes your registration to The Companies House, a free consultation, business bank account and official documents.

12 - Raising Investment

Once you have traded for a while and are looking to move on to bigger things, you may be ready to look for investment.  There is lots written about investment, including crowdfunding and incubator programmes.  The best guide I have seen is from Food Stars here

13 - Videos 

Get a video made to record your event for posterity, and to market yourself for future events - Matt Oliver can do this for you - and see his film of Selin Kiazim at Carousel here

Any other tips?  Please let me know