With reports surfacing that more companies are hiring and keeping temporary workers than ever before and the employment rate stalling out, temporary appears to be the new normal. And temporary workers aren’t the only transient within this economy. An innovative company called SQFT is taking advantage of the new “temporary”: matching vacant retail space with businesses that want space for short periods of time.

The idea is quite brilliant.

As SQFT describes it, “SQFT is an online platform that connects entrepreneurial renters to short-term leases and labor in San Francisco‚Äôs Mid-Market neighborhood.” They launched their Market Street pop-up corridor on August 1st.

On their website, they offer a calculator showing you how much it would cost to rent out vacant space per day. The variables include type of shop, size of shop, time of day, and length of rental. I played with it myself and if I wanted to open a coffee shop with 200 sq ft for one week, I’d be paying $360 for 6 hours per day for the space. (Price per day is reduced with a longer commitment).

SQFT has good intentions – to revitalize newly vacant areas with “pop-up” businesses.

It will be interesting to see the evolution of this idea. When the economy rebounds, will this still be a viable business model? Will retail spaces be open to the idea of “short-term” rentals? On the positive side, retail sites may find that they can charge higher rates to short-term renters and that there are a plethora of entrepreneurs out there that only need space some of the time. Yet, on the down side, landlords may not like the constant turn-around and may yearn for the days of long-leases and locked-in tenants.

What are your thoughts on this idea?


  1. Joe @ Retire By 40 Reply

    We have quite a few pop-up businesses here too. I think it’s a good thing. The storefront looks better than a vacant place. The store gets to try out their concept and see if they can make money. I’m sure once the economy improve, some of the stores will be more permanent.

    • @Joe – You’re probably right. Maybe the pop-up’s will continue on as the economy improves. And I’d definitely agree that pop-ups look better than vacant stores with “For Lease” signs in them.

  2. As a landlord, I would only accept these pop-ups when the economy was bad. As soon as the economy picked up, I would switch to a longer term solution.

  3. Charlotte @ HIMMB Reply

    I have to agree with Joe. It’s better to have even a short term business than a vacant store. I think it’s an awesome idea for a business to have a chance to try out before having to invest in long term rent.

  4. I think taking temporary tenants – whether for a business space or for residential space -is always a gamble. If I were filling my space with a temporary occupant, I’d definitely want several references before letting them sign the lease!

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