Lost in Fragrant Translation

by Chikashi

When pop-up shops started appearing, they were interesting.  It was innovative in many ways.  Unoccupied spaces were utilised for the mutual benefit of the property owner and the temporary occupant.  As these pop-up shops appeared in areas where the retailer does not already have a presence, the consumers often benefited too.

Often, the pop-up retailer was not even a retailer of any classical definition or even someone that has an ongoing product line.

A one-off collaboration between two disparate brands.

A one-off collection that is not available anywhere else in their distribution network.

A liquidation of samples.

A temporary appearance in an unexpected area.

A combination of the above.

Now that all the me-too companies have jumped on the pop-up bandwagon, one tends to see the term being used rather more indiscriminately.  Now, it only means a temporary shop.  I suppose that it is meant to provoke a certain sense of urgency amongst the consumers merely by virtue of the fact that the shop will only exist for a finite period even if it is carrying the same products that are available nearby.  One of the practical challenges in marketing is to not be tempted to think that one’s clientele is as intellectually challenged as oneself albeit it must be said that the premise does impose a certain constraint on the range of possible outcomes.

This past weekend I saw the pop-up shop, pictured above, on Elysée High Street.  At #68 is the beautiful historical home of Guerlain.  The façade of the ground floor has three distinct sections:  the Guerlain shop in the middle, the entrance to the building on the right and on the left a space that was previously occupied by a third party tenant in the hospitality trade.  The pop-up shop appeared in the latter space.  Not even next door to the main shop but at #68.  Selling the same stuff.

What makes this pop-up shop mission even more remarkable is the fact that the adjacent building on the left houses their sister company Sephora’s flagship store, selling more of the same stuff.

As I stood in front of #68, it took a little while for me to register that what I was seeing is really, actually there, not just a figment of my imagination on a cold, damp day.

And, I thought that French law demands that shop signs be in French.  Or, is ‘pop-up store’ a French term?  Perhaps that’s just it:  does it mean something else in French?