Pop-Up Markets Are Here to Stay

By Brittany Murdock

Photos of by Emily Lyons-Wood Photography

Weekend plans that were once filled with trips to the mall are being replaced with trips to local pop-up markets. After gaining a large amount of traction within the past year, it’s as though they’ve been popping up everywhere—literally. Sola Coffee Café in North Raleigh hosts pop-up markets twice a month, bringing together roughly 20 local artists and vendors for local shoppers to peruse. Trophy Brewing hosts the monthly Pop-Up Raleigh Market, both indoors and outdoors when weather permits, and 2018 dates are posted at PopUpRaleigh.com. The list of local hosts is long, and now other pop-ups are coming to town.  


The Charlotte-based Girl Tribe Company—which owns a boutique in the Queen City and has launched its own branded pop-up festivals specifically for women-owned entrepreneurs to showcase their products—debuted the Girl Tribe Pop-Up in Raleigh on November 18th. This curated event welcomed more than 30 women-owned businesses to showcase their jewelry, eco-friendly nail polish, clothing, organic soaps, homemade pillows, and so much more. It was a chance for online shops and local businesses to bring awareness to their brand, many for the first time, in a positive and encouraging way.

“At the end of the day it’s all about getting out from behind your computer to really connect with your customers in an environment that values community over competition. It’s an experience of a storefront,” says Girl Tribe Pop-Up co-founder, Carrie Barker. “[Vendors] are able to curate the entire look of their booth, from backdrops to placement of the product and much more.”

These pop-up markets allow customers a chance to get to know a brand on a much deeper level. Business owners decorate their booth to show their character, creativity, style, and authenticity, something you might not be able to notice through Instagram or an online website.

Kaitlin Ryan and her line of handmade beads, called Peppertrain, participated in the Girl Tribe Pop-Up event as well as in other markets around the area. She has found great success in pop-ups since they’ve hit the scene.

“Pop-ups do really well for me because my product has a certain aesthetic and can look heavy sometimes. It allows customers to touch, feel, and see everything the product offers,” Ryan says.

She too finds a creative outlet when designing her booth. “I keep my website tight and styled, so the pop-up is where I come to bring a variety of items and it’s also a place to try new things. If it’s a new style you’re implementing, it’s perfect to bring something like that to see immediately what the feedback is,” she adds.

With the world on a social media craze, these events have the ability to turn a “like” on Instagram into a purchase. Interacting with the person behind the website allows creative outlets to flow, ideas to be exchanged, and the customer to gain a stronger sense of the product and the owner behind it.

One of Raleigh’s favorite vintage shops also got behind the trend of pop-up markets this holiday season, opening for a two-month run in a temporary space at 19 West Hargett Street. In November and December, Raleigh Vintage collaborated with Zartiques to bring to life the ultimate vintage shopping experience, complete with Persian rugs, furniture, clothing, jewelry, accessories, and more.

“The pop-up definitely helped us connect with customers so much more than when we were selling only online,” says Andi Shelton, owner of Raleigh Vintage. “So many ladies, and some men too, have come in and told us how thrilled they were that we finally got a retail space—even if it was temporary. They tell us that they’ve been following us for a long time on social media and are excited to see everything in person.”

The chance to connect with businesses you’ve only seen through a phone screen is just one reason the pop-up frenzy is here to stay.

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