As retailers, malls, and shopping centers are increasingly open to short-term leases, and small retail brands are eager to fill them, one startup called Popable is playing matchmaker.
Popable, founded in 2017, currently has ~10,000 brands on its pop-up marketplace, from food stands to bridal boutiques, which it’s connecting with the 1,500–2,000 vacancies it has nationwide through retail real-estate partners like Simon, Kimco, and Brookfield Property Partners.
“That’s a good way for them to keep the lights on in the shopping center, generate a little extra revenue, and provides an opportunity for brands that are looking for ways to grow their pop-up,” Scott Blair, Popable’s co-founder and CEO, told us.
Its latest partnership is Walmart, which joined the platform last week to allow small brands to rent out short-term front-of-store space in time for the holiday shopping season.
Walmart has ~150 spaces available in Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and Colorado. Darryl Spinks, Walmart’s senior director of retail services, said in a statement the move exemplifies its “focus on offering services unique to the neighborhoods we serve.”
Meet your match: While similar platforms follow a broker model, representing either the retailer or brand in the lease, Blair told us Popable is a “peer-to-peer platform,” essentially a Match.com for brands and retailers.
“When you’re leasing space for retail, booking like a hotel doesn’t really work well,” he said. “You really need to walk the property, have the conversation with the party on the other side, and negotiate the terms.”
Brands can create a listing and then directly message leasing agents at shopping centers with open space they’re interested in.
They can also message other brands to join forces to lease a pop-up together, a trend that’s growing, Blair said.
Rent out of shape: While demand booms during the holidays, Blair said interest in short-term leases is growing year round. One of the main reasons? Paying rent on time and in full has been a continuing problem for small retail brands.
A survey published late last month from Alignable found that US small retail businesses’ rent delinquency rose to 43% in October, up from 31% in September, the sharpest increase of the year for the sector. More brands have been turning to short-term leases to “mitigate some of that risk,” Blair said.