Holiday pop-ups offer consumers choices, convenience

12/10/2013 3:11 PM

12/11/2013 12:47 AM

Topsy’s Popcorn does a tremendous amount of business during the holiday season.

It needs to.

“It’s our most profitable season but we need to do 200 percent of our business then,” said president Bob Ramm of the Kansas City-based company, which has 10 stores. “It’s a crazy business. We lose money every other month of the year.”

Those permanent locations in area shopping centers are in prime spots and keep the brand awareness high.

During the holidays, Topsy’s Popcorn and other retailers also rely on pop-up locations around town to increase brand awareness and make it even more convenient for their customers to shop with them during the busy holiday season. Retailers also can try out a mall without signing a long term lease.

Some mall rents are $300 to $400 a day, Ramm said, and then he has utility costs, salaries, and costs for ingredients and packaging and more.

This year Ramm has seasonal stores in Summit Fair in Lee’s Summit, one in St. Joseph, and another in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, where he also has a permanent store.

As for the Metro North Shopping Center, Topsy’s had operated there since the center opened. But that store closed in mid-2011, after most other stores had closed in the mall.

Still, in November 2011, he brought it back as a seasonal store in the same spot and operated it until spring 2012. He did it again last season and this year.

“We started getting four or five calls a day in November with customers asking us if we were going to be there,” he said. “They love us up there and they don’t have to fight the traffic at the other malls.”

Topsy’s also doubles its staff for the season, from 200 to 400 employees, and produces one million pounds of flavored popcorn during the period.

Holiday Ham Co. also has a permanent store across from Oak Park Mall in Overland Park.

But about 70 percent of its business is done in November, December and at Easter.

For 25 years it has operated a seasonal store in Metro North. This year the kiosk is selling smoked turkey breast, hickory smoked whole turkey and honey glazed, spiral-sliced holiday hams.

“Everyone thinks we are a chain but we are locally owned,” said Jim Malinowski, founder and owner. “We don’t have the money to do a $300,000 store on every street corner.”

He said the seasonal stores that seem to do well are the ones selling specialty products that relate to the holidays and are hard to find.

“So if anyone wants to start a holiday business, that’s what they should look at,” Malinowski said. “They can test out the mall without any huge commitment.”

Oak Park Mall at 95th Street and Antioch Road has several seasonal stores selling artwork, nuts, barbecue sets with team logos, hand-blown glass figurines, Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt jerseys and Sporting Kansas City garden gnomes.

Infinity Lights offers customized light fixtures while you wait. Customers can pick the colors and shapes of the fixtures which are made from recycled milk cartons.

The Tasteful Olive in downtown Overland Park also set up a kiosk in Oak Park Mall for the second year.

Customers can taste a sampling of the Tasteful Olive’s many olive oils and vinegars. The products are sold individually as well as in 2-pack, 4-pack, and 6-pack units. The kiosk also is selling other gourmet products.

“We also have different price points, from $10 to $50,” said Jeanne Mackay, owner and founder. “People get so excited sometimes they come over to the store in historic downtown Overland Park the same day because they want to see more and taste more.”

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