The Period Shop: Pop-Up With Attitude
Recently, I stumbled upon what I believe to be the finest example of retail pop-up ever. Period.
It was The Period Shop, and it was awesome. Exclamation point.
Last week in Manhattan, women – and men – lined up for a look inside this extremely thematic pop-up.
Of course I took a peek. And it was life changing… Ellipsis.
The opening of the The Period Shop was the kick-off event of the Period Projects campaign from U by Kotex. At the entrance, I snagged a festively illustrated pink and black brochure – featuring a cuterus (a cute uterus) and a superhero tampon – informing me that the period pit stop was inspired by a tumblr post by FIT student Sarah Michelson.
“One of the most inspirational parts of Sarah’s post was when she said we need a space where we’re respected and revered,” said Crystal Boersma, lead creative director on the project from Organic, the agency behind the shop. “When I run out of lipstick, I’m really excited to buy more lipstick. And I should have the same excitement to replace my tampons or pads. So a bright, open space dedicated to this is long overdue, and we’re really excited to be the ones to make it happen.”
Sarah asked for chocolate, manicures and PJs. The Period Shop (not to be confused with The Period Store, one of several time-of-the-month subscription box services) gave her chocolate, manicures and PJs. Plus tampon-print sweaters, feminist memorabilia, a “GIF n’ Go” station, pizza, a neon sign encouraging visitors to “Go with your flow” and a live DJ. The seemingly hundreds of tampons hanging from the ceiling was indeed a kinetic work of art.
Why do I think this temporary woman cave set a new standard for retail pop-up? Four reasons:
The entire point of The Period Shop was to bring what many consider a difficult conversation out into the open. The creators used real words, not euphemisms (unless they were making a joke). They spoke frankly and didn’t shy away from controversy. Actually, I believe they wisely sought it. The pop-up was witty, challenging and aggressive and ultimately facilitated meaningful, talk-able shopper moments.
A real person who had expressed an honest and widely held point of view inspired the Period Shop. She was a catalyst; a face for a movement. The Period Shop was not about selling products (well, OK, it was). But it was also about building a community of like-minded women, and a space where they could be themselves and be heard. Everyone had the opportunity to work together to bring a topic out of the dark and literally into the street. That’s tapping authentic emotion, and it’s great retail marketing.
While Kotex U was the brand behind the pop-up, and products were on display, commercial messaging was kept to a minimum in The Period Shop. On display was a collection of items inspired by and desired during a woman’s period. Demonstrating an understanding of her monthly experience in its entirety, the pop-up offered items that were indulgent, comforting and practical. It literally was a one-stop period shop that showcased a thoughtful, realistic and curated product collection.
Women were able to interact with The Period Shop in-person and online; their experiences were seamless and concurrent. Visitors were encouraged to share GIFs and updates from the event site in real time. Provocative messaging and visuals in the shop were must-see and must-photograph. Social media drove awareness and post-event buzz. The Period Store pop-up was a true 360-degree experience.