driving sales with pop-ups and trunk shows

retail secrets: how to use trunk shows and pop-ups to drive sales

Trunk shows and pop-ups are a great low-cost way to draw loyal customers into your store while also attracting new clientele. What is a trunk show, and what is a pop-up? It’s when a designer, brand, or other company is invited to set up their products in your shop on a temporary basis. Retailers big and small have caught on to this trend and you can, too!

As the founder of a wholesale business that also runs a small retail space, Dot & Lil Bath and Body founder Anne Dardick has participated in dozens of pop-up shops and in-store trunk shows at retailers across the USA and Canada since 2008. Below, Anne shares expert tips learned over years in the retail industry, to help you draw traffic to your shop and increase sales with trunk shows and pop-ups.


A brand sets up in your shop for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, displaying their wares for your clients and promoting their presence there. When the event is over, you pay only for what they have sold during the event, usually at a 50/50 split of the retail price. You can let the brand do their own merchandising in store, or collaborate on it. Some large retailers, like West Elm, do not take a cut of sales at all and simply use pop-ups as a way of showing clients they are in touch with indie or local brands and trends.

4 Tips for Successful Trunk Shows


The beauty of trunk shows is that they are very low-risk, a great way to test out new categories without much commitment or cost. You still want to make sure that the designer or company you invite into your store is on-brand, of course, but this is a golden opportunity to offer your customers something fresh and new. Have a brand that you are on the fence about bringing into the shop? Working with a vendor already but carry only a small fraction of their line? Great! Ask them to come set up for a few hours with their whole line, and plan a client-appreciation event around it. Our line of bath products at Dot & Lil is quite large, so a lot of our retailers carry only some of what we offer--we love being invited into existing shops we sell to, to showcase our entire line to their customers. Choose a brand who’s products pair well with what you already sell. Another idea is to provide a special treat for a short time, especially for things that it’s nice to have in store but that are hard to keep for longer, like plants or food. Ask a local florist to do a 1 day pop-up shop to celebrate the spring, or get a bakery to set up an in-store pastry stand for a weekend. If you have the space, you could even invite 2 or three vendors to collaborate for a themed pop-up, and combine publicity efforts. No matter who you invite, make sure they have a professional presence online or in person, and that they are the kind of brand you want associated with yours.

retail display at popup shop


As a shop owner, you are constantly trying to balance providing fresh new trends that customers want with keeping your inventory under control and not taking too many risks. Pop-up shops and trunk shows are the perfect way to showcase trends, because they don’t require you to purchase inventory outright. So if you think copper is the new black but aren’t sure if your customers will bite, find a brand that is on-trend and invite them in for a few hours on a busy day. This way you not only get to gauge customer reactions, you also show your customers and community that you’re a trend-leader with fresh ideas in store. Dot & Lil frequently gets invited to do pop-ups when we launch something that retailers are testing out for a specific holiday, like our teacup soy candles before Mother’s Day. This can also allow you as the store owner to benefit from having more seasonal stock.

seasonal pop-up or trunk show


Like any event or any business effort, this will only work if you promote, promote, promote. The beauty of this kind of event is that you have another brand on board to help with that! Be fair to the brand’s time and do your share of promoting it, too. A quick phone meeting can help determine who will do what, and allow you to make sure they will do their share, too. Make sure to give yourself at least a few weeks to plan, and let clients know between 1 and 2 weeks ahead of time for best results. Design a pretty graphic that combines your branding wth theirs, use it on social media and print a copy for your window or cash area. I strongly suggest printing small wallet-sized copies of the dates and times, nothing fancy, and handing them out to your customers at the cash for a few weeks leading up to the event. You can follow that with an email reminder to your mailing list before the event. Put a sandwich board outside during the trunk show, too, to give passers-by a reason to pop their heads in. What can you expect from the brand? When Dot & Lil does trunk shows, we promote on our social media before the event, send out an invitation to our clients, and notify any media on our press list that we think would be interested. We also try to take professional-quality pictures during the event, and provide them to the shop afterwards as a perk. Sometimes, we provide drinks, snacks and decor. It all depends on the event and what we decide with the shop owner.

retail store pop-up or trunk show decor


During the event, and even leading up to it on social media, make sure you are taking careful note of what customer’s reactions are so that you can use that data to make future purchasing decisions. Which SKUs did best, what color stories performed better? This is precious information. The other important element is to make sure that you are using the trunk show as a lead-capture activity. Have a mailing list sign-up sheet at the cash and near the trunk show display, and encourage each shopper to leave you their email address. This ensures that any new customers the brand brings in become leads you can market to, hopefully turning them into loyal customers of your shop for years to come. Chat with the shoppers or attendees and ask where they heard about the event--you might just discover a great new way to market your shop. When Dot & Lil invites media to a pop-up shop we are doing in a store, many times it is mainly the store that gets mentioned in the final piece. The way we see it, what’s good for our retailers is good for us, and vice versa!

The End. Have a Great Trunk Show!



Dot & Lil is a wholesale line of bath products, carefully designed and crafted in our studio. We also design and make a line of men’s goods, our brother brand Clark & James Grooming Co. Our products celebrate the beauty of simplicity and tradition. Register as a Dot & Lil retailer to see prices and wholesale information.

Flower-inspired, heirloom quality wholesale bath products

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