Shops That Pop

Seattle goes beyond e-commerce with good, new-fashioned pop-up stores

By Brigitte Long


December 14, 2016

This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

While the term “pop-up” should allude to something short-lived, this year’s retail trend shows no signs of going away. Seattleites are introducing brands and testing new ideas without the substantial investment brick-and-mortar stores require. “Retail shops can only afford to carry a few pieces of a designer’s collection, but a well-planned pop-up often includes close to a full collection,” says Forest Eckley, who hosted a pop-up in his Capitol Hill apparel and home goods store Glasswing last spring to showcase Portland-based clothing line Olderbrother. “It becomes a multisensory experience that allows people to temporarily be enveloped in a designer’s brand identity.” 

The pop-up concept has been adopted by small boutiques and giants including the Pop-In@Nordstrom series, launched in 2013 by VP of creative projects Olivia Kim to test new partnerships with brands Nordstrom might not otherwise carry. 

Image Credit: Courtesy of Amazon
Amazon’s Treasure Truck

Image Credit: Ty Ziskis
The Fabulous Donwey Borthers at Brainfreeze


Beyond fashion, the pop-up shop has proven a successful business model. Earlier this year, the former Lusty Lady strip club downtown was transformed into Brainfreeze, a pop-up gallery featuring local photographers and mixed-media artists; the event recurs during First Thursday art walks. “The benefit of a pop-up is the actual face-to-face engagement and the capability of storytelling that e-commerce doesn’t give the proper avenue for,” says co-curator C.M. Ruiz. Amazon seems to agree, and popped offline last year with the debut of its Treasure Trucks, offering a new way for Seattle Amazon customers to purchase a wide variety of limited-quantity products in person at various predetermined locations throughout the city. “Pop-ups should be as unique as the people doing them,” says Ruiz, “people following their own compass on what to have and how to present it. That’s the best thing they can do.” 

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