Canberra may be stereotyped as ‘the boring city’, but as one mug that POP Canberra stocks says, “Canberra thinks you’re boring too” (also available in a tote bag and car decal).
POP Canberra is anything but boring. Walk in and you’ll be greeted with bold, bright colours and a mural that says “shop local”, because that’s exactly what POP Canberra is, a collection of over 200 local makers’ products under one roof.
From pop-up to a permanent POP
POP Canberra was never meant to be more than a four-week pop-up that opened in 2018. Owner Gabe Trew found a short-term commercial rent, and three tables and many calls to local makers later, they were open. “I mean, I’m a maker myself and thought it would be cool to have somewhere to sell this stuff,” says owner Gabe, whose handmade line of skincare products Thirsty includes a ‘Feelin’ Peachy’ body scrub.
However, the community support for the pop-up was overwhelming. “Everyone was like, ‘well, you need to stay open, you can’t close down.’ says owner Gabe Trew.
After another pop-up the following year and a rough start for their permanent store (day one of trade was the first day of COVID lockdowns), they came back better than ever, with a renewed focus on the people behind the business. Learn not only about the POP Canberra team but also the makers that they stock over on their Instagram page.
The need for hardcore inventory management
POP Canberra originally used Square for their pop-up shops, but as their inventory grew with so much stock on consignment, they needed something with, as Gabe puts it, “hardcore inventory management.”
Not knowing about Square’s point-of-sale specifically for retail businesses, they switched to a different POS, but found it too finicky, and quickly came back to Square once they discovered Square for Retail.
“The transition was 80 times easier than I imagined,” says Gabe. “We thought we’d have to re-barcode every product, but we could just upload the barcode numbers as the SKUs. So it was really easy. We do so much ordering, so we need to be so intimate with our numbers because we don’t actually own the stock, so the reporting functionality has been really good.”
But it’s not just the backend of the store (receiving stock, creating purchase orders), Gabe also noticed customers love the checkout experience. Especially on busy weekends, the dedicated display on the Square Register helps speed things up.
“It’s just so easy that it reduces people’s time at the till by a good amount. They just choose their own receipt and then they’re off. We’ve got so many regulars and they just get receipt texts or emails and all they do is just hit that button [on the customer display]. It kind of levelled up the shopping experience.”
One-stop Canberra gift shop
Christmas time is really when POP Canberra does a mean trade. There are lines out the door, and once you visit, you can certainly understand why. “We do the trade that we currently do in two weeks in one day, like every single day,” says Gabe.
So who said Canberra is boring? With planters in the shape of the iconic Canberra bus shelter to locally made ceramics and cards, POP Canberra is proof that Canberra is anything but.