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Monday, December 5, 2011

Pop-up Mall Boxpark at Shoreditch, London

Sure, this is an out-of-box thinking !     Shoreditch is an area of London, built-up part of the inner city immediately to the north of the City of London, which is in news now.

Malls attract people but are no longer wonders ! – in East London, a pop-up mall Boxpark opened in Shoreditch, east London on 3rd Dec 2011 touted as a new concept providing something for the retailers.  The brainchild of Boxfresh creator Roger Wade and developed by real estate groups Hammerson and Ballymore, Boxpark will be home to 60 arts, fashion and lifestyle brands. Set in a part of London renowned for its trend-setting, youth culture and music scene, the new retail destination is expected to appeal to alternative markets and bring yet further shoppers to the East End.

There are many fashion brands who have their presence here which includes - Nike, Levi’s, Puma and Vans  - signing the concept follows a “no high street retailers” strategy with the aim of providing innovative operators with selling space at affordable rates. It is a development  that is hailed as  “a refreshing twist to London’s retail offer.   “Not only will the brands benefit from great exposure from being part of Boxpark, its location and design also appeals to a consumer that doesn’t necessarily want to come to the West End to shop.

Sure Malls are not new to England and more so, there are many chain shops and many arcades housing lots of retail shops – hence nothing new for the customer nor for the seller – then what is hype about ??

This one at Shoreditch is made famous because it has been created by stripping and refitting shipping containers to create “unique, low cost, low risk, ‘box shops’”.  “Put them together with a unique mix of international fashion, arts and lifestyle brands, galleries and cafĂ©s and you’ve got the world’s first ‘pop-up’ mall – so named because its basic building blocks are inherently movable,” it added.  “They can, and will, literally pop up anywhere in the world.”

Shop owners in the East End have been boxing clever for an age but one businessman believes he has taken the retail experience to a whole new level.  Roger Wade is credited with making his long-held dream of building a low-cost mall out of recycled shipping containers becoming  a reality and, for him, Boxpark was always about offering something completely different. With its 60 plus succinct, rectangular stores, all creatively laid out to offer something unique with the limited space they have, different it certainly is.  Built at the Goodsyard in Bethnal Green Road – a site which lay unused for 40 years – Boxpark is pitched as the world’s first pop-up mall as it only has a five-year lease before the owners of the land decide what to do with it.  “With Box Park it’s low-risk retailing. Stores can sign up for one year or five years.”

From an angle, they look more like the cluttered shop of  Burma Bazaar in Chennai or other markets of Delhi, where you would find number of smaller shops selling all and sundry items from sleaze to real… here some big retailers reportedly have taken the space to sell their wares.   Besides garments, shoes there are coffee shops too.   The great and innovative news is that all these shops are located on abandoned or unsued shipping containers – the marine container boxes that were once used for transporting different types of materials after few years are abandoned or are withdrawn from service.  They are still good but do not possess the strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage and handling.  They have wooden floor boards and corrugated steel bodies and can be put to some alternate use – in project sites they are used to house people also.

The local community is buoyant as this park has created some employment opportunities for people who are desperate for jobs.   So Boxpark built on a temporary site and made entirely from recycled shipping containers, London's latest retail park lays claim to be the world's first ever "pop-up" shopping mall.  The aptly-named "Boxpark" opened for business  along a vacant strip of east London's fashionable Shoreditch High Street. It is composed of 60 standard-size shipping containers, stacked two stories high and five rows wide and this  probably  is the most environmentally friendly shopping mall ever built.  

That way green energy is not all about solar panels, carbon emission control and like – it also includes recycling material without creating new.   It is not carbon alone, this type of recycling has added benefits of preventing chopping down more timber, pollution, and the like.  It took a year to complete and has a temporary lease of five years; the  Promoter Wade claims that after 5 years, they will return the land back to its owners in exactly the same condition as we got it, and then the community can decide if it wants a more permanent retail space there

With regards
S. Sampathkumar

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