guerilla stores are old news already, but the trend of temporariness seems to be expanding. after i expressed my annoyance about the acceleration of trend cycles as the instigator of stuff accumulation – and provoked excellent additions to the topic from anna, anu and sugar kane – i wanted to return to the topic of transience. although i remain critical of trend quickening, not all haste is something i detest.
i have a soft spot for nostalgic old stores and grieve the loss of regular nooks i have learned to visit. mourning small specialty grocery stores is an often brought up subject, but i also feel for other businesses facing extinction. the realization that, for example, traditional small finnish clothing boutiques for ordinary men's and ladieswear will disappear as their owners retire only to be taken over by chain stores, concept stores and expensive, specialty boutiques, makes me incredibly sad. i will miss the tacky sale signs scribbled with magic markers on fluorescent roll paper and the names like te-ra vaate (te-ra clothing, the name supposedly originates from the names of the owners terttu and raija) and housumies (i.e. pantsman, way cooler than dressmann although occurring next to each other the latter sounds positively queer...). they are as much a part of urban historical landscape as snobby literati cafes and drunk infested parks.
the recession created spatial vacancy in every city: many small establishments and unnecessarily expansive franchises took their last breaths in the past year liberating plenty of prime retail space. the hesitant manner new businesses emerged and were willing to sign long-term leases created an opportunity for impermanent operations. it is guerilla time like never before and the increase in fast-forward retail is tremendous. opening, selling and leaving in a matter of a fortnight could seem odd from the point of view of traditional business planning. lacking the intention of securing a customer base and continuity, these pop-up stores seek to feed the variety seeking nomad.
sure, it might be suspected that guerilla fashion stores propagate impulse shopping like no other; the apprehension of disappearance before coming to a reasoned decision whether to buy or not is a real motivating factor without a doubt. nevertheless, the emergence of a guerilla space means an experience beyond shopping even as we understand it today – a recreational way to regard a space and fill it with fleeting social interaction.
the more intriguing temporary phenomena are guerilla restaurants. usually in the form of food-trucks (because of legal (i.e. health and sanitary) reasons and the difficulty of finding proper cooking facilities other than designated restaurant spaces) they sell quality grub instead of the shady, greasy goo we're used to watch landing on our expecting hands at fairs and such. they come and go at will, but come with a newly added culinary pride.
although many guerilla retail trucks sell foods uncommon to restauranteurs on the move, there are traditionalists, as well, such as ice-cream trucks. some come with additional quirks, such as the big gay ice-cream truck. despite raising the expected controversy amongst some americans, their fave slogan is the positively political "winning over homophobes one bacon/chocolate sandwich at a time", and they offer olive oil and sea salt toppings in addition to their famous caramelized bacon. the guerilla politics just took one step further.
the element of surprise cannot rely on just landing somewhere, because random passers-bys do not a happening create. the traditional commercialization has caught up and there is already at least one permanent pop-up space in nyc, called openhouse gallery that informs through a blog and, naturally, twitter. tweets provide the perfect tools for communicating locations, and following the feeds of volatile entrepeneurs, you can treat yourself to an experience that thrives on temporariness.
does the vagabond element of surprise appeal to you?