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Created on 24.06.2024

Pop-up shop or pop-up restaurant: how to get started

Pop-ups are popular – either as shops or restaurants. But what do you need to bear in mind if you want to open your own temporary location as a company or catering business? We’ve put together a few tips – from choice of payment methods and budget to choice of location.

At a glance

  • Pop-ups are shops or restaurants that are only open for a certain period of time. Pop-ups are often opened by existing companies at vacant sites that are suitable for temporary use. 
  • A suitable range of payment methods is an important success factor for a pop-up. 
  • From budget and location to operating and marketing your business: our step-by-step guide can help you consider the most important points when planning a pop-up.

Want to get more tips for your business? Our business newsletter is full of handy tips and info. 

For a limited time only

That’s the best summary of the term “pop-up”. Pop-ups are shops and restaurants that are operated on a temporary basis. They pop up and then disappear or reappear at a different location. Companies or catering businesses rent premises for a limited period during which they offer their products and services. The duration of a pop-up can vary greatly: six months, several months, a few weeks or just a few days. A pop-up can be a special incentive for customers and guests. The fact that the service is only available for a short time makes it exclusive and special. Demand is often high, as people don’t want to miss out. This phenomenon is also known as "fear of missing out” (FOMO). 

Payment collection at your pop-up: the more solutions the better

It would be a shame if your customers and guests would like to enjoy your pop-up services but are prevented from doing so because they can’t pay by card, TWINT, etc. Make sure that your pop-up offers your customers an adequate range of payment methods. This ensures that you do not needlessly miss out on sales. If customers find it too complicated to pay or are unable to pay with their preferred payment method, there is a high risk that they will leave your pop-up without buying or eating anything.

The solution: The Combo payment methods acceptance contract enables you to accept all common payment methods at your payment terminal: from debit cards to credit cards and mobile payment methods such as TWINT – everything is included. If you do not already have a Combo payment methods contract, use the opening of your pop-up as an opportunity to switch to it now.

Pop-ups for temporary use

Pop-up store, pop-up shop, pop-up restaurant or simply pop-up: there are many names for this business concept. But what exactly does this trend involve? The locations are often vacant shop spaces that are used temporarily for a pop-up, or they are special locations such as a vacant petrol station. The pop-up concept came about in the retail sector in the late 1990s and became popular in major cities such as London and Berlin. The concept has also been established in Switzerland for a number of years now and is suitable not only for various sectors and purposes, but also for SMEs and large companies, as the following five examples show.

Examples of pop-up concepts

  • Every autumn, a small, regional company offers its exclusive range of chestnut products in a pop-up shop for a few weeks at a time. The small business is always looking for new locations where it can sell its delicacies from its own production and serve them over the counter. In this way, customers are constantly being made aware of the chestnut pop-up. 

  • An international fashion chain that does not yet have a shop in Switzerland is taking the opportunity to present its brand for six months in the largest Swiss cities – as a pop-up in Zurich, Bern or Basel – in a temporarily empty shop in a prime location. The allows the Group to test the potential in those areas.

  • An owner-managed company from the furniture sector with two city branches operates a pop-up shop at a winter sports resort during the winter season, giving owners of holiday flats the opportunity to view and buy furniture on site. 

  • An established catering company is temporarily testing a new dining concept in the special atmosphere of a former industrial warehouse that will soon be converted. 

  • A young designer has created a special jewellery collection with crystals from Switzerland and is presenting it in a small pop-up location near a tourist information office. This allows her to see how her jewellery is received by tourists. She hopes to offer the jewellery at other tourist attractions in Switzerland in the future. 

Tip: Clearance sales

A pop-up shop is also a good opportunity to sell off old stock if you need to free up space in your warehouse. 

Six steps to a successful pop-up concept

Even if the furnishings and atmosphere of a pop-up can signal that a shop or restaurant is only temporary, careful planning and implementation is recommended. These tips can help you to successfully set up a pop-up shop or pop-up restaurant. Bear in mind that every pop-up is unique and requires a custom approach that is adapted to the corresponding concept. Therefore, the specific situation must be taken into account at every step and the list adapted accordingly.

1. Concept and goal

Describe the goals of your pop-up concept. Do you want to launch new products or a new concept, increase brand awareness, gather customer feedback or address a specific target group? Also define which products you want to offer, with which service and at what price, and how your product/service stands out from the competition.

2. Budget

Create a detailed budget for your pop-up that includes all costs for rent, set-up, staff, marketing, insurance and other expenses. Make sure that your budget is realistic and supports your goals. The costs, which can vary greatly depending on the location, size of the shop and type of furnishings, include:

  • Monthly rent for the location
  • Furnishing the shop
  • Inventory (shelves, furniture, etc.)
  • Electrical installations
  • Lighting
  • Decoration
  • Marketing and advertising (interesting facts in the blog post “Marketing in SMEs”)
  • Storage and logistics
  • Personnel expenses (More in the blog post “How to calculate personnel expenses correctly”)

Also define KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the success of your pop-up, such as sales, number of customers, average shopping basket value, customer feedback and brand awareness. 

3. Timing

How long it takes to get started with a pop-up depends, among other things, on the rental agreement, the desired furnishings (shop fitting, installation of a kitchen, etc.), any permits required before you can start, and the infrastructure you need (power lines, etc.). Create a schedule that includes all important milestones and tasks up to the opening and during the operation of your pop-up. Also take into account any lead times for permits or deliveries.

4. Location

A wide variety of locations can be considered for a pop-up, such as temporarily available shops, covered courtyards, premises on sites that were previously used for other purposes (industrial warehouses/workshops, cinemas, garages, petrol stations, etc.) or locations that can be used for other seasonal purposes (a gelateria could become a mulled wine bar in winter, a fondue parlour might become a pop-up site for light vegetarian dishes in summer, etc.).

Check potential locations for your pop-up carefully. It helps to answer questions such as the following (list not exhaustive):

  • Does the location provide walk-ins?
  • Does your target group spend time in this environment?
  • Do the surroundings provide the right setting for your product/services?
  • How do you rate the competition?
  • Is the location easily accessible?
  • Is the location well connected to public transport?
  • Are car parking spaces available?
  • Are the costs (including overheads) within your budget?
  • Does the location have the necessary infrastructure or can it be retrofitted at a reasonable cost?
  • Can you organize the location so that it meets your requirements in terms of shop design, product presentation, lighting and atmosphere?
  • Does the location’s potential depend on seasonal conditions?
  • Is the site the right size and is it bright enough?
  • Does the room layout suit your concept?
  • Does the space also have an outdoor area that you can use?
  • Might the neighbours feel disturbed by your pop-up?

Good to know: how do you find locations for pop-ups?

Keep your eyes and ears open: perhaps you will discover a suitable location in your city during a walk or hear from suppliers, business partners or colleagues about a property for which interim use is planned. There are also platforms that advertise pop-up shops, such as, where you can search for shops in different cities.

5. Administrative and operative planning

Ensure that everything is running smoothly before and after you open your pop-up. 

Do you need a permit for the pop-up?

Find out whether you need a permit for your pop-up and obtain it, if necessary. You can find general information on business and operating permits in Switzerland on the website of the Canton of Zurich.

What are the rules for pop-up restaurants?

Catering concepts are generally subject to special provisions. As the catering in Switzerland is regulated at cantonal level, you must enquire about the regulations in the respective canton. In some cantons, the same rules do not apply to gastronomy pop-ups as to “traditional” gastronomy businesses. Depending on the canton, you may need an operating permit, a landlord’s licence, both or neither. Almost all cantons require a hygiene concept (HACCP concept). You can find detailed information on this from the cantonal food inspectorate. 

Getting organized

Continue to plan all operational aspects of your pop-up, including staffing requirements, opening hours, storage, logistics, payment processing and security. This also involves questions such as:

  • Where do I get the electricity or other infrastructure (e. g. water connections, toilets) to run the pop-up?
  • What framework conditions apply (e. g. noise and night-time quiet for bars, hygiene concepts, etc.)?
  • What equipment do I need?

6. Marketing

Develop a marketing strategy to get your pop-up noticed and attract customers and guests. Possible measures to publicize your pop-up include:

  • Use platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, X and LinkedIn to announce the pop-up. Use videos and images that arouse curiosity. Also create and use a hashtag for your pop-up and encourage customers to use it when they post about it on social media. 

  • Send e-mails to your existing customers. Vouchers and discounts help to attract as many visitors as possible.

  • Place adverts in local newspapers, magazines or online platforms to advertise the event in your area. 

  • Distribute flyers in the vicinity of the pop-up location to make passers-by aware of the pop-up (be sure to obtain permission).

  • Place targeted online adverts via Google Ads, Facebook Ads or other advertising networks to reach your target group. 

  • If you already operate a high-street shop, advertise your pop-up directly at the point of sale.

  • Enter into collaborations with influencers or local businesses and restaurants and ask them to report on your project on their social media channels or in their newsletters or to put up flyers and similar.

  • Invite the media to the opening of your pop-up. The media are constantly reporting on new pop-ups – especially in the catering sector.

Advantages and disadvantages of a pop-up – an overview

The pros and cons of a pop-up can include:


  • Lower rental costs for temporary use
  • Greater attention through high visibility
  • Exclusive shopping and dining experience   


  • Short duration
  • Relatively high effort 
  • Risk of failure

Questions and answers

  • The biggest hurdle is the time factor. The business must generate a profit or at least cover its costs within a short period of time. Take this into account when planning your financing. You also need to organize the marketing accordingly. As the pop-up will only be in operation for a short time, the measures must be in place before the opening.   

  • Pop-ups and events are both temporary activities. Pop-ups are temporary shop or catering concepts that sell products or offer catering services.

    Events, on the other hand, can take a variety of forms, including concerts, conferences, festivals, trade fairs, parties, sporting events, cultural events and much more. An event can be used for entertainment, information, promoting networks and communities, selling products and services and much more.  

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