a question than
a statement. But
wouldn’t it be
cool if we had
build of shipping
containers that were essentially pop-up shops and hotels and
other structures that make a village within a city?”
While the village was the focus, organizers didn’t turn their
backs on local businesses. They launched a Passport Program
with nearby restaurants, shops and venues that encouraged
village visitors to collect partner stamps, which were redeem-
able for rewards at the village.
The event utilized food trucks for a food court and borrowed 100 containers from local shipping ;irms to form what
Destination Saint John Executive Director Victoria Clarke describes as “a steel fortress” that guided pedestrian traf;ic ;low
and provided a secure perimeter for the 30,000 people who
attended this ;irst-time event (the City of Saint John has a resident population of 65,000).
“We didn’t alter these shipping containers in any way,”
Clarke says of the borrowed meeting spaces. “So you could only
get in and out of them on one narrow end, but people used them
as they saw ;it.” A painter and musician used one for a gallery/
concert space, while some businesses set up retail shops inside.
Matt White of the Sussex Beard Oil Merchants is one of
the out-of-box-in-the-container entrepreneurs who attended.
White was just off a successful appearance on Dragons’ Den
(the Canadian version of TV’s Shark Tank), where his business
“You know how when you blow a whistle a
dog tilts their head? People do that when they
see something new. I saw that a lot through
the weekend. Everybody loved the idea.”
plan attracted the support of two “dragons.” He so quickly bought
into the idea that he didn’t plan what to do until he was on site. “I
hadn’t thought ahead, as usual,” he says. “When I got there I opened
up my container. I think I got a new one. There was no smell, the
walls were fresh paint and I thought this was paradise. So I set my
store up inside it. I had a barber with me.”
As an exhibitor White wholeheartedly embraced the container
event idea. “I like different. It didn’t matter if I lost a ;inger, I would
have enjoyed myself,” he says. “The concept gave what I call a dog
whistle tilt to people as they came in. You know how when you
blow a whistle a dog tilts their head? People do that when they see
something new. I saw that a lot through the weekend. Everybody
loved the idea.”
White already plans a return for 2017. He is such a fan that he
is working on a secret project that sounds like he could travel the
province with his own pop-up shop/barbershop.
The pop-up event idea is already gaining momentum. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Eric Stotts, a Boston-trained architect and partner
in Skin and Bones Building Design, says, “I can’t disclose who it is,
but we’re working with a government agency, planning a big trade
show, to develop the model of ;ive containers to be used for a week
at a location here in Halifax.” Part of
the discussions are on merits of a
lease versus ownership scheme for
Stotts, who has experience
rehabbing several containers into
pop-up bars and beer gardens, says,
With the addition of solar panels exhibitors could have a strong,
secure, mobile and environmentally friendly trade show booth.
A pop-up event village could be a game changer for many
groups and destinations. ■
Eric Stotts, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based
architect with experience converting
and rehabbing containers for use as
pop-up bars and mobile exhibition
space, offers the following tips and info.
• Built to rigorous international
• Come in lengths of 10’ (rare), 20’
• Easily rehabbed and shortened.
• A new one can cost CDN$8,000
• Consider deployability. Lighter units
can be positioned in place with a
“tilt” load truck, while heavier units
could require a construction crane.
Cost difference is a factor of 10.