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Matthew Robert White Plots Valentine’s Day Pop Up Retail Blitz (Includes interview and first-hand account)

Matthew Robert White is a pop up shop genius who created and now manages several different short term retail businesses during holiday fairs, and who has helped create a network of craft booths in shopping malls and in urban hot spots across Canada. Normally very secretive about his vending operations, Matthew agreed to let me showcase his latest inspiration, specialty roses for Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Robert White holds a Black Rose

Matthew Robert White holds a Black Rose

Pop Up Retail was first chronicled as something that happened in Los Angeles in 1999 with thrifty retailers using empty store fronts in the economically depressed parts of the city. It has gained a lot of attention since then, and is now even more common in the mobile age.

Trendwatching describes how Pop Up Retail “fits right in with the Entertainment Economy, the Experience Economy, the Surprise Economy,..” and so on. They write about how it can pleasantly interrupt consumer behavior with temporary ‘performances’, offering fresh shopping experiences, and guaranteeing exclusivity because of the limited time span. The experts in the article express how it works best when its mobile, and not just on smart phones, but physically nomadic, “…like the London Fashion Bus.”

Pop Up Retail also offers unparalleled opportunities for re-targeting and sales customization. Matthew can collect terrific data specific to neighbourhoods, and build an email mailing list of interested consumers by collecting visitor information through transactions or in most cases simple interactions conducted on and over tablet computers. Matthew has proprietary programs that are custom coded for each seasonal event. So for example anyone who buys a rose on Roncesvalles this Feb 14th will be enticed to sign up for his newsletter, and trade contact information and permissions for insights about future pop-up stores and local events.

While many shopping mall landlords and mall operators struggle to fill vacancies, and many big box companies try to squeeze as much revenue as possible from packed store shelves during the high-traffic holiday season, Matthew’s temporary retail outlets, or what Trendwatching calls ‘pop-up stores’, are very cost effective campaign driven alternatives. The staff is upbeat and wants to breaks records and make memories.

“Valentine’s Day in particular is all about showing love and roses signify love, and we’ll be selling them, and toys, lace panties, potpourri, dried roses, rubber roses and nasty back roses made with roofing tar bitumen. I’m not kidding.” Matthew Robert White

John Jacowskl Toronto Area beekeeper stands beside Matthew Robert White in the Organic Farmers Marke...

John Jacowskl Toronto Area beekeeper stands beside Matthew Robert White in the Organic Farmers Market on Sorauren Ave.

At a local Farmer’s Market, there is a honey producer selling wax roses for Valentines Day and standing beside him is Matthew Robert White holding his bitumen covered black rose, which he will be selling here and in other locations across the city. Valentines Day is a great opportunity for sell all different types of roses and chocolates and romantic gifts.

Black Roses? In the language of flowers, black roses signify death, or supreme hatred. So giving a black rose on Valentines’ Day can really make a statement.

A black rose made by dipping dried roses into flat roofing tar - petroleum bitumen.

A black rose made by dipping dried roses into flat roofing tar – petroleum bitumen.

I wrote about making and giving Black Roses for Valentine’s Day on another local forum, and this left this piece on bitumen dipped roses on Medium last week. I took a trip out to a flat roofing job site in Toronto Ontario and made black roses by availing myself of their ‘tar pots’ which are known in the industry as ‘tar boilers’, but which are in fact filled with 500 degree petroleum bitumen. Myself and a flat roofer dipped a dozen roses and it was inspirational – it inspired Matthew Robert White to go out and make his own.

What is Flash Retailing? A more modern variation of Pop Up Retail is Flash Retailing which happens when a social media ad campaign climaxes in a pop-up retail outlet where followers and brand devotees can scratch their itch. So for example when a music celebrity starts a rumour of a local appearance, retailers can sell branded goods at the venue.

Matthew does no marketing before the event. He says, “The idea is to delightfully surprise the consumer and make it an experience just to enter the space. I prefer outdoor spaces especially in the winter because nobody expects that!’ He laughs and then ponders what the weather will be like on Feb 14th?

The future of these types of events is very bright because they can double as celebrity media attractions, VIP rewards dispensaries, and travel coupon destinations.

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