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Chocolate in pop-up form

Today (Tuesday November 20th) sees acclaimed chocolatier Damian Allsop launch his own pop-up shop in Tunbridge Wells as well as a pop-up shop at the Corinthia Hotel. “The opportunity presented itself to move into this building until Christmas,” explains Allsop.  “It’s in a cracking position, smack bang in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. We were put in touch with the architects and it turned out we did their wedding chocolates about four years ago!”

For Allsop, who makes his own chocolates and sells them through retailers, this pop-up shop offers him a chance to try the world of retail. “We’re just very excited that we’ll have our own little space,” he confides. “We sell at the Eridge Park Farm Shop but that’s outside Tunbridge Wells and we’ve got such a unique range of products that we need more space. A few people will have seen us on TV, but this will be a great profile-raiser and a great tester for looking at having a shop.”

Allsop is planning to appeal to his customers at these pop-up ventures both in terms of the range of stock and also the price he’s selling his chocolates at. “Usually we have to sell our collections boxed, but at our shops we’ll be able to have a few collections available in loose form, so that people can try pieces from them.” His pricing will also be competitive. “There are no middlemen with our pop-up shops, so we’ll pass that on to the customer. Our loose chocolates will be £1 per piece – really fair. We want to make it exciting for our customers and accessible too.”

Brixton’s trendy Brixton Village is currently home to a recently-opened pop-up  shop from award-winning chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory, who, like Allsop, doesn’t have a regular shop of his own in which to showcase what he does. “The opportunity came up,” says Gregory, “ and the location is in one of South London’s most vibrant eating places, so I thought let’s take it and see what happens. We’ve never had our own shop before, so this will be an opportunity to see how it goes. It’s a chance to have that interaction with the general public  and give us a chance to see what they like.”

Gregory opened his pop-up shop in Brixton Village in October. “It was only supposed to be open for a week,” he laughs, “then they asked us to stay for a month, then until Christmas and now we’ve agreed it will be a pop-up for a year! People seem to like it – our bestsellers are the things that always sell, our chocolate lollies and the Pure Indulgence range - and it’s interesting for us to be dealing directly with the public.”

As with Allsop, Gregory is relishing being able to offer an extensive range of what he makes. “We do a lot of special offers inside the shop; buy one, get one free. We’re able to mix it up a bit and bring out some new flavours for Christmas. We did a Christmas Pudding chocolate test last week and people seemed to love it, so we’ll be selling that.”

High rents and rates are a major barrier for any independent food producer seeking to set up shop, so it’s great to see talented chocolatiers such as these making the most of innovative ways in which to sell directly to the public.

Damian Allsop Pop-Up Shops are at:

8 Chapel Place, (The old Chapel Bar)Tunbridge Wells

Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2 BD

Open 11am-7pm Thur-Sat weekly in the run-up to Christmas, then daily from Dec 17 to Dec 24

Paul Wayne Gregory’s Pop-Up shop is at:

2b Market Row, Brixton Village, Brixton Market, SW9,

Open Thur-Sun 11am-6pm


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