With mobile payment systems at the peak of popularity, the high rent cost of shopping spaces, and shipping containers being cheap and readily available, there's no wondering why shipping container pop up shops, cafes, and retail spaces are booming in popularity.
Shipping container retail spaces offer a trendy, easy to customise, and easy to transport building that may not even require permits (depending on the container size and your area's building codes). They also provide the ability to build up: if you can only afford rent for a small area of land, containers can be stacked on top of each other to double your retail space.
One example of a shipping container retail space that's breaking ground around the world is the shipping container cafe. These are often cheaper to set up than regular retail spaces and are hugely customisable based on your needs. Some businesses are even pre-making container cafes and selling them ready to go.
A cafe can be made with new or used 20ft shipping containers
, 40ft shipping containers, or a combination of them both. This depends on the space you have available, whether you want indoor seating, and how much you're willing to spend. It's unlikely you can open a 20ft shipping container cafe and expect to have room for your customers to sit indoors unless you use a bar type seating arrangement. There just isn't enough space. Most 20ft container cafes use the indoor space for baristas/staff and for seating, they utilise a shelter system for customers to sit outdoors. If you're planning to do this, try to ensure your outdoor area is protected from the wind and prone to sunlight. You can also consider using the roof space of your container as an outdoor seating area.
Shipping container pop-up stores are also rising in popularity. They offer a convenient and temporary solution to retail spaces that can be moved to new locations and find new markets. This movement from location to location can generate a buzz around brands, and reach new audiences which is great for social media presence and brand awareness. If you're waiting on a permanent space to launch your business but don't want to waste precious retail time, you like the idea of moving from place to place, or just like the idea of upcycling containers and modifying them to your business's liking, then a pop-up container store is well worth looking into.
Generally, pop-up stores are made of 20ft or even 10ft containers just because of the ease of transportation, but that doesn't mean this is a must. There are plenty of examples of pop-up container malls which have been successful all around the world. California is seeing a surge in them, as is Australia with Brisbane's shipping container food markets. Perhaps the most notable example is Christchurch's Re:Start Mall
- a famous example of a shipping container retail space done right. Opening after the 2011 earthquake, a disaster that devastated the city and effectively demolished the CBD, the shipping container mall was a quick solution for a city that lost its retail spaces. With around 60 shipping containers, the mall provided food shops, cafes, clothing, and even banking. The mall was created with the short term in mind, expecting to remain open for six months to a year, but it quickly became a cultural hub in the centre of Christchurch.
Shipping container retail spaces are popping up everywhere internationally and for a good reason. They're cheap, customisable, transportable, and trendy. If you're looking for a retail space but don't want to pay much rent, like the idea of moving around a pop-up store, or want to carve your own unique design out of a shipping container, they could be the right solution for you.