Since the beginning of Re-Nou everything we learned and every step we made was within the scope of an online business. However, we could always imagine that little offline events would be an amazing opportunity to get closer to our community. So after 1,5 years of true online experience, we decided to risk it and jump into cold water with our first-ever Pop-Up event in Vienna. The decision regarding the location was easy, as Vienna is the place where we both lived last for 5 years. Knowing the people and the city made it easier to find a nice shop that would host our event. The maisonette is a female-owned gift shop with many cool and hip gift items, that people in Vienna love! The shop consists of two areas, the bigger one at the front with a huge window and a small cosy part in the back, where we would show our vintage jewels.
We decided that we would host the Pop Up for one day, due to being inexperienced, as well as the financial aspect of renting a space. In retrospect, we think that 2-3 days would be a better option. But more on it, later.
Even though we haven’t seen the physical space before travelling to Vienna for the event, we received some photos and a rough idea about its size. What was important to us at this stage, is to ensure that our vibe and the vibe of the shop go well together. Also, we wanted to make sure that all the rails with our clothes are just enough for the space. Are not too many and not too few and they can fill out the space nicely. Therefore in the last two weeks before the event, we wanted to source some more items, that could be exclusive for the Pop Up and make people curious that there is more to come than what they can see on our page.
We made a dry run at home, trying to visualise all 5 rails and thinking about the arrangement of every item. Luckily, we have a creative friend, who worked as the art director for COS and was responsible for visual merchandising and so she explained how it is done. Ideally, you put a whole outfit on the rail, starting with a warmer jacket or coat, followed by a jumper, blouse, and trousers. The shape of the hanging clothes on the bottom of the rail has to be a wave. We followed the instructions as much as we could since we don’t have complete outfits due to the nature of vintage sourcing. We always strive to create an organic collection, but we never have full control of what exactly we might find when hunting for second-hand. So we always have to be flexible.
Equipped with photos of the prepared rails and our plans we arrived at the shop a day before the Pop-Up to prepare the room for the big event. We have to admit that ironing, steaming and price labelling about 80 clothes is quite a challenge. We were lucky that a friend helped us through this task, without her we would be steaming the clothes still on the day of the event! At 1 in the morning, we were done preparing and quite happy with the outcome.
The day of the event was a Saturday, which is always the best day for sales, according to Maisonette’s Shop owner Andrea. And it was true, as soon as the doors of the shop opened at 11, people started pouring in. It was super exciting, some people came just because they knew or were curious about the gift shop, some because they have seen the big sign of our vintage
Pop Up and some were eager to visit Re-Nou because they already knew us. That of course was really flattering and so nice to see people we only knew from Instagram or from emails. But being physically present is not so easy, we felt a bit shy and nervous. Also, even though we wanted to have the easiest paying method available for our clients, we bought a card processing machine and were convinced that it will be perfect. As it goes, something didn’t work, we tried to troubleshoot, and in the end, could only accept cash payment or PayPal. We were quite upset about it as we really wanted a smooth experience for our customers but unfortunately weren’t able to facilitate it. People didn’t seem to mind, as paying in cash only is still widely popular in Austria, even since the pandemic.
While the first part of the day was really busy, the second half was quiet and we could enjoy some small talks with our friends and followers. This was particularly nice, as this is what we totally miss out on when selling online. Yes, we text and email, and we communicate, but it’s not the same as having natural conversations, where you can ask much more questions and really take your time to listen.
We were all super tired as the shop closed after 6 hours, but happy to have had such an experience.
On that day we sold 11 items. Some that have never been online, some that have been online for a while and also very new clothes. It was amazing to see how people browse through the rails, what types of clothes are particularly popular in Vienna and whether the price and style are well received. Of course, we have our statistics from online selling, but this was a whole new insight.
1 day is too short because:
- It is quite a bit of work to bring all the items from the shop, prepare them, put them on display and take them back down after the day.
- If people don’t know Re-Nou and our values it is harder for them to understand the pricing and all our work behind it. With one or more days there is a better chance that if somebody liked an item, they might think about it, research us and maybe come back.
- On this day there was a lot going on in the city, so if you are unlucky, people just aren’t able to come, even if they want to. So 2-3 days would accommodate for more visitors.
Next time different city:
Our statistics already made us aware of that. Vienna and Austria are in our top 4 countries for sales and followers. However, we noticed that our style is much loved in Italy. We have our own favourites within our collection and quite often these pieces are a bit more extravagant. Interestingly, during our Pop Up these favourites weren’t as popular as we expected. There could be many reasons, but we think one of them is that every city has its own style. So maybe Milan has ours :)
Since the start of Re-Nou we learned everything about how to run an online business, so naturally, we are complete beginners at physical retail. But it was a great experience, one that we want to repeat - learning from Vienna, from our customers and from our mistakes. It is a great journey! But for now, we are back online - exclusively.