Downtown Oakville Innovates with Temporary Retail Space Initiative 

Upscale downtown Oakville is seeing a unique and innovative pop-up initiative that will see 8 dedicated retail spaces animated with a variety of temporary tenants. 

Property Manager Bentall Kennedy, which manages the commercial properties in the Lakeshore Road East area, has partnered with innovative connector pop-up go (spelled lowercase) to lease out the spaces to a variety of unique tenants. 

The collaboration is meant to provide consumers with spontaneous and engaging experiences. “Although a lot of planning is involved in creating a pop-up, the element of surprise is what keeps people coming back for more,” said Linda Farha, Founder and Chief Connector at pop-up go. “Engagement is increasingly important and so is piquing the curiosity of the consumer.”

Downtown Oakville is already a lively shopping and cultural district, and boasts upscale retailers such as L’Occitane en Provence, Ron White Shoes, Anthropologie, James Perse, Maska Mode, Kit and Ace, Roots, and a number of other prominent national and international tenants. Ms. Farha noted that adding pop-ups to the area means new brands can test the marketplace and long-term tenants reap the benefits of increased foot traffic. 

These temporary tenants may occupy Bentall Kennedy’s spaces anywhere from three days to three months. “Pop-ups enhance consumer foot traffic and word-of-mouth, but they also have an economic ripple effect,” said Domenic Imbesi,  Regional Director of Marketing, Retail Services at Bentall Kennedy. “We see this partnership as a tremendous opportunity for brands to test the area, and for merchant neighbours to capitalize on the novelty.”

Mr. Imbesi noted how unusual multi-unit street-front pop-up retail is, and how the property manager is seeking to create a unique shopping experience in the affluent town of almost 200,000 people on Lake Ontario. While being less than a 40 minute drive from downtown Toronto, Oakville feels a world away with its picturesque landscapes, historic quaint feel, and sprawling lakefront mansions. 

Toronto-based retail consultancy JC Williams Group conducted a study on downtown Oakville, noting that the demographics of the geographic area adjacent to the downtown core has contributed to Downtown Oakville’s upscale retail that targets affluent women over the age of 40. As baby boomers retire and change spending habits, however, local retailers are adjusting to appeal to new socio-economic realities including young adults who live west of downtown, the ‘moms/daughters’ segment, and men. Pop-up retail could target this expanding demographic. 

A variety of specialty tenants are being sought for the spaces, including jewellery, one-of-a-kind fashion, food, and even technology uses. “It’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to profile their businesses in an area with an established, affluent demographic,” explained Mr. Imbesi. 

Downtown Oakville’s pop-up retail is expected to bring traffic to the surrounding shopping area, providing benefit to existing tenants. The “surprise and delight” element is an added bonus, explained Mr. Imbesi. Many of Bentall Kennedy’s retail units have a heritage feel, with historical architecture and an attractive streetscape that is sure to attract interested retailers. “This will benefit the downtown community at large,” noted Mr. Imbesi. 

Bentall Kennedy partnered with pop-up go to activate its 8 retail spaces. Mr. Imbesi explained how interested retailers can go to pop-up go’s website to search out spaces by searching specifically for downtown Oakville geographically, then narrowing down which space(s) work best — there’s a luxury of choice. 

Space seekers can quickly select spaces of interest and connect with landlords/property managers (like Bentall Kennedy) directly on the pop-up go website (www.popupgo.com). 

As well, offline, pop-up go offers two services: POP-UP MATCH and MAKE IT POP (both spelled all-caps). POP-UP MATCH is a bespoke offline match service that provides the perfect curated pipeline of tenants for landlords and locations for space seekers, while MAKE IT POP offers customized marketing strategies and full-circle communications support specifically for the pop-up industry.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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