How’s this for a pop-up concept? Fifteen vintage retailers, a month-long operation, a 32-percent boost in traffic and retail sales increasing by 15 to 30 percent; that’s what a partnership with Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair did for Leeds Corn Exchange last fall.
Following a refurbishment in 2008, the UK center had been struggling to sign up tenantsagain. In fact, by mid-2010, the property’s entire first floor was empty, leaving local shoppers to think that the center had either closed completely or was just a food emporium.
The center’s marketers approached Judy Berger, a rising retail “star” whose vintage shopping event had grown to 30 UK cities and six major festivals in just a few years, and their idea was to turn that empty floor at Leeds Corn Exchange into a giant vintage pop-up store for the whole month of November. So that’s what they did, taking six weeks to outfit the shops with basic electrical hook-ups and temporary signage.
From November 4th through 28, the ghost town turned into a compelling destination hosting an event not to be missed for shoppers looking for vintage fashions, re-worked and handmade clothes and jewelry, local designer showcases, crafts, home wares and a few novelties.
For the launch, Leeds Corn Exchange had musicians perform, held vintage hairdressing sessions and tied in additional highlights, such as the Marvelous Tea Dance Company.There was a promotional push through the local press and Facebook, as well as regular leafleters roaming the city center.
Even as momentum built, the marketing team continued to sustain local interest with its regular fan page postings (the number of fans increased by 261), weekly leafleting and more events, like the Reetsweet Craft Fair.
By the end of the four weeks, there was no more doubt that Leeds Corn Exchange was indeed open for business.
The center was able to use the Vintage Pop-Up as a catalyst for its leasing program, signing up Mad Elizabeth on a five-year lease while seven vintage retailers stayed until the end of December, creating incremental rental income of £4,500 ($7,110), with three more operators staying in January.
“The Vintage Pop-Up event has really boosted interest in the Corn Exchange and has subsequently led to a number of offers from local independent retailers,” noted Adrian Johnson of Central Retail Chartered Surveyors.
The formula worked just as well for Judy Berger.
“We were really excited about the month-long event. It really showed off what Leeds has to offer and proves that Yorkshire has some of the finest purveyors of vintage,” she said.
“As a Leeds girl myself, I’m really happy to be bringing this fantastic pop-up shop to this beautiful, historic building, which really complements the vintage nature of the event. We will also be bringing smaller-scale vintage events to the Corn Exchange in 2011.”
Those events were in fact booked this past spring and early fall. The next Affordable Vintage Fair is slated for November 5 and 6 at Leeds Corn Exchange.
> IN THE NEWS
Coverage of the various instalments of Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair included stories in Stylist Magazine, Marie Claire, Vogue and The Independent.