Experiential pop-up store delivers hard message


January is a month of positive change, for many of us.

It’s the perfect time to take a good long look in the mirror and consider our plans for our lives – whether that’s by setting a career-focused goal,  deciding on an ambitious health target or perhaps making the decision to try something truly daring. It’s often a time of great hope and optimism, looking forward to what the next 12 months has in store.


But making firm plans and goals can be hard for young people going through particularly difficult circumstances. A pop-up store was recently used as the perfect medium to explore why this is the case for many.

Unsuspecting shoppers were faced with a hard-hitting message upon entering a newly-opened fashion outlet in Cleveland. Bellefaire JCB, an Ohio-based child service agency, had organised a very powerful experiential stunt to raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness in America.

Placed in an upscale suburban shopping mall, ’Second Look’ opened its doors and instantly attracted interest from consumers expecting to grab themselves the very latest threads. But what started out as a fun day of shopping quickly proved to be quite the opposite for those that ventured inside.


Customers who popped into the store were shocked to be introduced to live mannequins, each one portraying homeless teenagers. Challenging society’s negative views of homelessness and the stereotypical assumption that youths are in these unfortunate situations because they are criminals or runaways, Bellefaire JCB wanted to give them their own labels.

Sales associates at the store first introduced the mannequins by offering up the emotional stories of why these youths were homeless, surprising and shocking customers. Tags on the clothing throughout the store and also on the attire worn by the live mannequins then revealed a plethora of emotive statistics about homeless youth, designed to challenge and change perceptions.

Customers were instantly shocked and moved by the brutal realities surrounding this growing American social issue. See the powerful activation and customer reactions for yourself:

The pop-up store’s clever play on words – ‘Second Look’ – was used to both entice shoppers into the store and then put forth an important message that every individual deserves a second look. Bellefaire JCB is now actively encouraging people to share the campaign across social channels, using the success of this experiential activity to heighten awareness across America and around the world.

The campaign demonstrates how pop-up stunts can effectively bring to life powerful messages. The Window Project by The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Homes recently used a similar approach with a brief but powerful experiential display that creatively demonstrated the impact of domestic abuses and raised vital funds to tackle the problem.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.