By: Ashleigh VanHouten

I’m spending some time this month in a city that’s new to me – San Francisco – and I couldn’t be more excited. Born in Nova Scotia and living most recently in New York and Ottawa, I’ve always been an East Coaster, and I don’t really expect that to change—but what I’ve seen, heard, felt, and tasted of San Francisco has been incredible so far.  One day, while walking more than a couple miles up and down popular Valencia Street, I found a number of beautiful treasures (edible and not) simply by walking into any store that struck my fancy.

I happened upon one pop-up shop for a store called 5 Points: A Creative Union, based in Kansas City, Missouri. This whimsical, fun shop partners with local artists to make leather goods and beautiful tabletop items, among other things (it seems a reoccurring figure of theirs is a blue sloth who likes adventure). Some of their pieces, like the gorgeous ceramic planter I bought, was made and hand-glazed and painted from a mold they created with their own 3D printer.

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This got me thinking about pop-up shops in general. Living in New York, I was no stranger to the allure of pop-up stores, cafes, restaurants—the idea that the experience is limited often makes it more special special and exciting than the objects on offer, which is great marketing when you think about it. Everyone’s more excited to explore the wares when they know they’re only available for a short while, and when they could be buying something that others won’t have.

But it’s not just about clever marketing – often times pop-up shops DO have great stories, like this 5 Points:  unique visions, working with local, largely undiscovered talents, and creating things we’ve seen before. These temporary shops also offer chances for exposure to the larger world, too—I have no immediate plans to visit Kansas City, so I’m glad I was able to happen across this company in San Francisco.

I’m sure I will have more adventures (and more shopping triumphs) throughout the rest of my trip, but for now: what are your favorite pop-up shops?