BRIEF: Oxford Expands Temporary Retail Initiative, YSL Pops up at Square One, Mark’s Pop Up on Queen

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Oxford Properties Expands Mall Pop-Up Initiative

Landlord Oxford Properties is expanding pop-up retail in its malls in a big way. It began in the spring of 2017 when Yorkdale Shopping Centre launched a permanent pop-up space called CONCEPT, and now other malls are seeing dedicated pop-up areas. 

Edmonton’s Kingsway Mall is the latest in the portfolio to include dedicated pop-up areas — spaces were created in a renovated part of the mall that formerly housed a Target store (which has seen a $50 million overhaul). Called ‘Community’, the 2,700 square foot space is described as being “a revolving showcase of remarkable retailers… connecting you to passionate people, new products, and authentic experiences.” 

Vendors include: CACAO 70 Dippery (popular ice cream), Cookie Dough Stand, Milk Milk Lemonade (various delicious beverages), and Whisk Dessert Co. (previously “Over the Top Cakes”) which features locally made desserts such as macarons, pies, cheesecakes, eclairs, cookies, and assorted seasonal desserts are available for pre-order & ready made for pickup. 

Kingsway is also leasing to temporary tenants in the immediate area — Lindsay Botha, Manager of Specialty Leasing and Partnerships, explained how the mall’s pop-ups are a way for brands to test out the mall.   

“Malls are a community of retail,” she explained, and having the diversity of temporary tenants that might not otherwise locate in the mall is adding diversity to the already successful retail centre. 

Other Oxford malls are adding pop-up spaces — Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto recently introduced its ‘Sweet Market’, which includes three popular sweets retailers in one retail space. Calgary’s Southcentre is another property getting in on the temporary retail game, which has the potential to add “local flavour” to malls, which often overwhelmingly feature national and international chain retailers. 

Edmonton-based jewellery retailer The Makers Keep tested out Kingsway last year, and decided to make the move to become a permanent tenant. Owner Katrina Petryshyn was initially hesitant to move into the centre for two reasons — malls are notoriously expensive, not to mention considered to be “mainstream” by some. But the math made sense, and the Maker’s Keep found a community at Kingsway that led to the signing of a long-term lease. 

Retail analysis and futurist David Ian Gray predicts that 2018 will be ‘The Year of the Pop-Up’ — though given the momentum we’ve seen in 2017, it might already be temporary retail’s year for the making. 

Demand for pop-up retail space is already unprecedented, says Linda Farha, Founder and Chief Connector at pop-up go, an online platform that helps pair retailers with available temporary retail spaces, which also features a curated pop-up match service that provides access to the ever-growing pipeline of pop-up seekers looking for space. Pop-up retail wasn’t on the radar for the most part, she noted, and now business is booming. 

Yorkdale Unveils ‘CONCEPT 4.0’

Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre’s permanent pop-up space CONCEPT has launched another rotation of tenants — until a couple of weeks ago it was Sunwing Vacations, and now CONCEPT is featuring several terrific food vendors. 

The latest round of tenants will be in the space until February 28, 2018. The most popular and exclusive dishes from Cheesecake (on a stick) by Heirloom, French Toasted by Fidel Gastro’s, Buster’s Sea Cove, Me.n.u and Chatime are featured. 

Yorkdale also has a separate pop-up area in the centre of the mall called ‘Indulge’, featuring Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, Pie Squared, and Eva’s Original Chimneys. All three vendors also popped-up at CONCEPT when it launched in the spring of 2017

HiO Pops-Up at CF Malls

European designer retail concept HiO has opened on Level 2 (former Gerry Webber space) at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, and a second location will open mid-December at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. HiO features a selection of hard-to-find European designers, with a focus on fashion accessories. 

It was explained that HiO is set up to test brands before they expand out into either their own retail stores, or otherwise wider distribution in Canada. Brands include Campo Marzio, Agatha Ruis de la Prada, and Moleskine — the latter which is reported to be on the hunt for retail spaces for its own stores with the help of The Behar Group for sites in Toronto, and Think Retail for Montreal.  

Nordstrom Launches MoMA Pop-Ups

Seattle-based Nordstrom is bringing New York City’s Museum of Modern Art to Canada. Nordstrom’s Vancouver and Toronto flagships both feature MoMA shop-in-stores that feature collections ranging from inexpensive greeting cards and coasters to a gigantic clock priced in the thousands. 

Only eight of Nordstrom stores (including two in Canada) feature pop-ups, called ‘Pop-In by Nordstrom’. It’s the brainchild of Olivia Kim, vice president of creative projects at Nordstrom, and her buying team. “I’ve always been a huge fan of MoMA Design Store and their ability to thoughtfully consider the most interesting, exclusive and enticing products from around the world,” said Ms. Kim.

YSL Beauty Opens 1st-Ever Pop-Up at Square One

Now until December 31, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty is operating an innovative pop-up at Mississauga’s Square One. The modern 1,100 square foot space features more than 400 products for women and men and includes complimentary engraving on lipstick, fragrance or the iconic Touche Éclat, makeup classes, events and more. For more information, visit

The pop-up includes YSL’s best-selling collections for lips and fragrances, including the recently launched Tagouage Couture and Tient Encre de Peau All Hours. 

Hillcrest Mall Launches ‘Choose Your Experience’ VR Pop-up

Richmond Hill’s Hillcrest Mall will be adding a virtual reality pop-up experience opening this December. For a limited time, guests of all ages will be able to experience a variety of VR through tech simulations.

“With the surge of new upcoming retailers at Hillcrest, shoppers are eager to see what we have in the works. This holiday season, Hillcrest is focusing on important updates in advance of its interior renovation, including a new Santa Set and revamped website.” says Lisa Resnic, Marketing Director and Specialty Leasing Director, Hillcrest Mall. “This year will also be the first time we are introducing Black Thursday to offer shoppers even more value.”

Landlord Oxford Properties is adding new experiences to the mall, which has seen almost $100 million in investment over the past several years — it just announced that it is tenanting its former Target space, while it also renovates common areas and adds new retailers. 

As well, Hillcrest has added the innovative ZaZaZoo concept to the mall — shoppers to rent and ride large plush animals throughout the shopping centre, and guests of all ages are encouraged to take part. We profiled ZaZaZoo about 18 months ago on Retail Insider, when it was still a relatively new concept. 


For retailers seeking to do pop-ups, or for landlords looking to get into the game, online platform pop-up go helps pair retailers with available temporary retail spaces — pop-up go also features a curated pop-up match service that provides access to the ever-growing pipeline of pop-up seekers looking for space. Fore more information, contact Linda Farha at:


Jeweller Myles Mindham pops-up at Toronto’s Yorkville Village

Local luxury jeweller Myles Mindham has opened a pop-up inside of Toronto’s recently overhauled Yorkville Village shopping centre. The space is called Hazelton by Mindham Fine Jewellery, and it’s in the mall until the end of December on the second level between Judith & Charles and Sarah Pacini

The roughly 650 square foot boutique carries various Mindham designs, priced between $300 and $5,000, in a space that looks almost too good to be a pop-up. 

Minhdam also has a permanent store on nearby Hazelton Avenue, in a lovely area featuring a mix with commercial and residential along a tree lined street. 

Yo Sox also pops-up at Yorkville Village

Colourful Toronto-based sock brand Yo Sox has a pop-up on the ground level temporary retail space at Yorkville Village, facing ‘The Oval’. Various sock designs are available. 

Yo Sox was founded in 1993 and it also has a store at 607 Queen Street West, in the city’s hip ‘West Queen West’ area. 

New Scotland Clothing Co. pops-up in Halifax

As first reported in Halifax ReTales, the New Scotland Clothing Co. has opened a seasonable pop-up in a retail space near the Apple Store at Halifax Shopping Centre. The casual Nova Scotia-based fashion brand’s designs are manufactured in Canada. 

The company also has a permanent retail space in Dartmouth, just across from Halifax. Remarkably, it has a 4.9 star rating with 53 votes on Facebook. 

Loewe Pops-Up at Holt Renfrew Square One

Spanish luxury brand Loewe has a pop-up space at Holt Renfrew’s Square One for the holidays. The LVMH-owned brand, known for its leatherwoods, has amplified its presence significantly in Canada over the past two years. The collection is now carried at Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom, including selections of ready-to-wear as well as accessories. 

Holt Renfrew is also hosting other pop-ups for the holidays — Tiffany & Co. has opened temporary spaces to hawk expanded collections, and Holt’s itself is selling gift items including seasonal toy bears, with proceeds from sales going to charity. 

Mark’s to Open Queen Street West Pop-Up as it Rebrands

Formerly ‘Mark’s Work Warehouse’ and now known as ‘Mark’s Well Worn’, the Calgary-based retailer (under the Canadian Tire umbrella) is opening a pop-up for several months at 336 Queen Street West in Toronto. The space has hosted several pop-ups and over the summer Ikea decked out in an impressive retail space that was also highly interactive with games and food. 

We’re told that 336 Queen St. W. will be demolished next spring for a new mixed-use building. 

POP-UP PLANNING POINTS, brought to you by the experts at pop-up go

Pop-ups are becoming increasingly diverse with more organizations turning to creative experiential marketing strategies for fresh and innovative ways to enhance their brands. Pop-ups can range from the tried and true, to the wild and wonderful but there are a few common elements that make up the backbone of every successful activation. Here are three key components to consider when planning your pop-up debut: 

Lists: Make one – and check it twice

Don’t rush in to start your pop-up, make sure you have taken some time to think about all the different elements that will be involved in your activation. Think about what you want your finished experience to look and feel like – work backwards from this and create a plan that will help to make sure your brilliant ideas become an equally brilliant reality.

Think about all the possible aspects and logistical information to ensure your pop-up runs smoothly. For example, if you plan to have merchandise at your pop-up – What merchandise will you have? How will you transport it there? And, once it’s in the space, how will it be displayed? If you have on-site sales, don’t forget to determine how you are going to accept payment. Think about all the materials that will be needed to set-up and sustain your activation.

Staff: The faces of your business

The people you hire to staff your pop-up are the people who will be representing your business throughout the duration of your activation – think of them as brand ambassadors and make sure you select the right people to create the right impression. Leave enough time for staff training to ensure your new hires know your brand inside and out. It’s important for your pop-up to have a strong and engaging staff capable of supporting you in your efforts to create compelling experiences.

It’s hard to predict how many people your pop-up will attract, so make sure to think positively and hire more staff than you need. This will also allow for attrition and any other issues that may occur if someone is not able to show-up.

Social Media: Create a buzz before, during and after your pop-up

Social media will be vital for marketing your pop-up and encouraging word-of-mouth promotion from your visitors. Make sure to create a strategic social media plan and execute it ahead of your launch. You can use helpful tools to pre-schedule your posts, such as Sprout Social. Develop social content that demonstrates why your pop-up is unique and worth visiting.

You may also want to consider what external trends relate to your activation and participate in those online conversations to capitalize on their buzz. Try to plan or gather as much visual content as you can ahead of time, but remember to post “in the moment” content too including photos and live videos of your pop-up in action to increase FOMO effect.

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. When your pop-up is well-planned, it’s a breeze to execute and will therefore be more successful. First impressions are important – you only get one so make the most of it by defining a clear strategy which includes these core elements.


*Retail Insider will periodically feature pop-up concepts in its Briefs. For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Craig Patterson at:

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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