I was reading a post on thestorefront.com talking about how pop-up shops began to appear in the 1990s and this got me to thinking. I think this is wrong.
I think the greatest in pop-up shops pre-dates the 90s by quite a bit. For me, the ultimate examples of pop-up shops are thousands upon thousands of small merchants that set up shops at the local, county and state fairs across the United States during the summer months. These merchants travel from town to town, setting up their booth, selling their wares for the run of the fair then move on to the next. These are the true unsung pop-up shops.
My favorite fair pop-up shop is Steichen’s Grocery & Deli at the Minnesota State Fair. Located in an alley between the Sheep & Poultry Barn and one of the beer gardens, Steichen’s has been operating at the fair since 1933. The Steichen Family were long-time merchants in St Paul were they operated a general merchandise store on University Ave from the 50s to the 80s and later ran a sporting goods store in Roseville (now closed).
But through all those years, the Steichen family has spent the waning weeks of summer serving the needs of fair-goers in Minnesota.