‘Tis the season for pop-up retailers in region’s centers | nnbw.com

‘Tis the season for pop-up retailers in region’s centers

John Seelmeyer

Along with radio stations that launch holiday music the day after Labor Day, nothing marks the start of the holiday season quite like the arrival of pop-up seasonal retailers — everything from Halloween superstores to the Hickory Farms shops.

“We have found that the number of pop-up stores are growing as both local and national retailers are always investigating additional ways to sell their merchandise during this key time of year,” says Tony Vail, general manager of Meadowood Mall. “Toys R Us Express , which will be open at Meadowood Mall this holiday season, is an excellent example of this.”

Pop-up stores provide a boost to owners of retail space.

“If you can get a tenant into a vacant space, even for a month or three months, it’s great for your bottom line,” says Alexia Bratiotis, general manager at The Summit.

The south-Reno lifestyle center is making its first serious foray into seasonal retailing during this Christmas season, looking to lease spaces ranging from 1,200 to 7,000 square feet.

Bratiotis says the seasonal tenants provide a fresh mix of shopping possibilities for consumers.

For instance, Calendar Holdings LLC, the Austin, Texas, company that bills itself as the largest seasonal pop-up retailer in the nation, will open a 7,000-square-foot store at The Summit carrying all three of its major brands — Go! Calendars, Go! Games and Go! Toys. (It also will operate a location at Meadowood Mall.)

That level of specialized inventory isn’t available at other stores in The Summit.

In some instances, Bratiotis says, existing retailers elsewhere in the region have looked at seasonal shops at The Summit to test the south-Reno market or to extend their geographic reach during the key shopping season.

The getting-to-know-you elements of seasonal retailing go both ways, says Catherine Oaks, marketing director of the Outlets at Sparks.

“With flexible lease arrangements and lower maintenance costs, temporary, seasonal retailers have an opportunity to make a profit by promoting seasonal products, while giving landlords and tenants a chance to observe consumer behavior prior to signing long-term lease arrangements,” she says.

For the owner of a neighborhood shopping center, a seasonal lease — whether it’s for an anchor space or a smaller shop location — helps build customer traffic, notes Shawn Smith, a vice president in the retail group of CBRE Inc. in Reno.

That provides support to other tenants in the center.

In fact, some seasonal retailers provide strong — if short-term — drawing power by themselves, says Oaks.

“Seasonal retailers bring shoppers who might otherwise have not visited a shopping destination which ultimately benefits the shopping center as a whole,” Oaks says.

And along with the rent that’s paid by a seasonal tenant, the property owner also may be able to recoup some of the common-area maintenance costs — landscaping, trash removal and the like — that the property owner is paying out of its own pocket when the space is vacant, Smith says.

But while landlords may be enthused about the possibility of a few months of rental income from a long-vacant building, they need to take careful stock of the potential costs as well, says Ken Mattison, senior vice president in the retail division of Coldwell Banker Commercial Clay & Associates.

A big issue: Damage deposits and cleanup deposits.

“They bring in a semi, throw everything in the back and then they’re gone,” Mattison says.

He says some shopping center operators are cautious, too, because their property might get a black eye if customers can’t track down the retailer for a refund or customer service after the seasonal shop closes down.

At any rate, the opportunities for landlord to generate much revenue through seasonal leases is limited, notes Mark Keyzers, a principal in the retail properties group of NAI Alliance.

A handful of Halloween-related retailers soak up some large spaces in the fall, and malls fill some space with holiday-oriented shops in the Christmas season.

But through the rest of the year, Keyzers says, seasonal retailers simply don’t pop up.