A pop-up opportunity paved the road to success for a husband and wife team behind a newly opened homewares gift shop in Mt Hawthorn.
Bianca and Marcus Jowett opened Granite Lane on Scarborough Beach Road in November last year after successfully running a pop-up shop in Bayswater. The Jowetts and a group of like-minded entrepreneurs transformed a vacant building on King William Street into a community hub via a collective pop-up offering coffee, ice cream, furniture, gifts and jewellery.
The building was donated by Yolk Property Group to enterprising individuals as a place to trial business ideas and test the market rent-free, for the period between acquisition construction.
Previously in recruitment, Mrs Jowett started Granite Lane after a redundancy in 2016 prompted her to change careers. Originally an online store selling furniture, homewares, baby accessories and giftwares, Granite Lane’s customers were primarily located in the eastern states.
Ms Jowett said she was eager to take the pop-up opportunity as a way to see whether a bricks and mortar store was viable if she could expand her customer base to include buyers in Western Australia.
“We didn’t know whether our online business would translate into an actual shop – we had very few local customers and didn’t know how it would be received. It is a very scary prospect committing to a five year lease with so many unknowns,” Ms Jowett said.
“The pop-up provided us with a risk-free way to see if it was going to be worth it to pursue an acctual shop. We were thrilled to see the community respond so positively to our concept and they completely embraced the collective pop-up space, it became a little hub of activity,” she said.
The Granite Lane pop-up ran for 11 months and resulted in strong sales and a growing collection of local customers. In October 2016 the Jowetts closed the pop-up in favour of a permanent location, armed with the experience and knowledge of their temporary store behind them.
“The pop-up let us try new things and test ideas without serious financial consequences. I’d get feedback from people on what they liked and didn’t like, which then allowed me to make smart decisions when I was buying for the next season,” she said.
“Baby gifts weren’t originally part of the offering online, but after seeing how popular they were at the pop-up, I knew we had to include them at our Mt Hawthorn shop and they’ve become a huge part of our offering, both in-store and online.”
Ms Jowett said pop-up gave them the confidence to find a location and sign a lease.
“We developed faith in our business model – it is exactly what we needed to verify that we were going in the right direction. Our customers were also on board – they said they’d still shop with us despite us moving to another location. Not only have our original customers followed us to the news store, the Mt Hawthorn community have welcomed us with open arms,” she said.
“Without the pop-up we probably wouldn’t be in this position today, we’ll always be thankful for the opportunity,” she said.
Co-Director of Yolk Property Group Pete Adams said it made sense for property developers to offer vacant buildings to the community to use.
“After acquiring a site it can take up to 18 months before construction begins and all the building will do is sit there idle. It’s a waste when entrepreneurs, artists and creatives could be using it as a test tube space,” Mr Adams said.
Mr Adams said the Bayswater site was a trial to see whether the idea had merit and after positive feedback from the operators and support from the community, the company would be offering pop-up opportunities at other sites and encouraged other developers to do the same.
“Perth has such an abundance of creative and talented dreamers – we should be fostering this entrepreneurial spirit and giving them every chance to succeed.”
“Supplying them with a space to work from, rent-free, costs very little to us, but could make a huge difference to them,” he said.
The next pop-up will take place in Fremantle sometime in April. The Bayswater pop-up is still running and is expected continue for another six months.
Granite Lane is located at Shop 43, 148 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm; Thursdays 10am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 3pm. More information can be found at www.granitelane.com.au. Further information on Yolk Property Group can be found at www.yolkpropertygroup.com.au.