Union Station offers commuters, online retailers 'cheeky' twist on pop-up shops

8 businesses have joined forces in one 350 square-foot pop-up shop in Canada's busiest transit hub

Posted: April 19, 2018

A 350 square-foot store will be open for two months at Union Station, with a collection of eight small, local companies' products. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)

Years of renovations at Union Station are finally coming to an end, and new this week in the lower level of the transit hub is a pop-up shop that is giving online businesses a taste of what the world of bricks-and-mortar retail is really like.

"We've brought together eight different brands that wouldn't have been able to afford to access or manage this on their own into one retail concept store," said David King, a project manager with thisopenspace, a company that specializes in pop-up events and retail spaces.


The two-month pop-up shop has gathered the eight businesses into a 350 square-foot space for what King calls a "cohesive" retail experience, which means any one shelf in the space holding items from all eight businesses. The pop-up will be open until June 1, and organizers say they hope commuters rushing to catch a train will slow down long enough to take a look.

The theme of the shop is home furnishing and accessories — a "cheeky" concept, says King, as most people are on their way home, or from home, when walking through Union Station.

'We made it a tiny home'

"We had 350 square feet to work with and we had eight companies book, so what we ended up doing, we made it a tiny home," he said.

The businesses in the shop are mainly small, local companies that have found success in the online realm, but have yet to break into bricks-and-mortar retail.

King says the concept is aimed at giving "all brands the ability to get in front of more customers.

"No matter how many Facebook ads or Instagram ads you run there's still nothing better than allowing somebody to walk in, look at your product and touch it."


One of the companies in the shop is mattress company Sleepenvie, which is an exclusively online retailer.

'The pop-up is a little treat'

"Until now, we've always thought of doing a pop-up to engage with our consumers on a different level, but selling online has given us the opportunity to pass on factory-to-consumer pricing," said Amanda Albert, a public relations coordinator for Sleepenvie.

"The pop-up is a little treat to connect with consumers and allow them to try the product while still being able to pass on that sort of savings."

Amanda Albert says the home pop-up shop at Union Station is a 'treat' for customers of her company, Sleepenvie. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)

Albert says despite the eight companies crammed into one space, Sleepenvie is not envious of other companies in the shop.

"We are in great company with products like night hoods and sleep shirts, (they're) are all very complimentary … all of our brands are working together."

A 'fantastic' idea

Doug Stephens, a retail expert and founder of Retail Prophet, says the idea of the Union Station pop-up is "fantastic," and is part of a larger trend of bringing change to traditional retail spaces.

"As we become more and more conditioned with Facebook or other online channels, we're just bombarded with new things," said Stephens.

"And yet in the physical world, we don't have that same sense of variety."

With files from Lorenda Reddekopp