Launching A Pop-Up Business
In A Shipping Container

Find out the many advantages of using containers for your new business

Over the past few years, dozens of pop-up food, retail, and office complexes made up from converted shipping containers have opened across the UK.  They are an ideal way for a start-up to get on its feet, without being crippled by extortionate rents, or high overheads. This is never more important than now, when the world is still in a state of uncertainty.

For some, a repurposed shipping container is the ideal permanent base for a small enterprise, while for others, they are the perfect stepping stone before moving on to somewhere bigger. Small independent businesses are often priced out of city centres, but a converted container offers a window of affordability in a prime location.

Pollard Yard, a thriving modular small business site just outside Manchester city centre, is so successful that it is seeking a 10,000 sq ft expansion which would accommodate 167 shipping containers, up from the current number of 116. The site is managed by Meanwhile Creative, who run similar schemes in Bristol and Cardiff.

The initial focus at Pollard Yard was for offices and studios rather than shops and food outlets that relied on passing trade, but since the pandemic, that has begun to change. People who have been made redundant or furloughed from their jobs are following their dreams, and setting up everything from chocolatiers to wine merchants.

Cocoa & Bloom was set up in December by Darcy, who left a job as a Business Development Manager to pursue her dream of working in confectionery. Today, she sells beautiful handcrafted chocolates made from locally sourced ingredients, which are packaged in reusable paper-lined tins.

Nearby, Loaf MCR sells sweet baked goods wholesale, but is also open to the public. The fun all-pink container is complete with a customer counter, mini reception area, pink murals, and display shelves. Owner Aiden, who is on furlough from a job at a clothing company, discovered a latent talent for baking during lockdown, and hasn’t looked back since.

Loaf and Cocoa & Bloom recently collaborated to produce special Mothers’ Day gifts. Lucy Hackett, Community and Site Manager of Pollard Yard, said: “What started off as a derelict piece of land back in 2019 has since flourished into an aspiring community of entrepreneurs, creatives and small businesses.”

“The best thing about Pollard Yard? Easy – the people. It’s so wonderful to watch tenants network, collaborate and generally support one another to achieve their personal and business goals. We’ve got lots of exciting things lined up for the future which will hopefully enhance the experience of being a tenant here at Pollard Yard. So watch this space.”

The Manchester site is just the latest in a long line of refitted container complexes that have popped up around Britain over the last 10 years. The original site is thought to be Boxpark in Shoreditch, London, which opened with a mixture of food and retail businesses in 2011. There are now further Boxpark sites in Croydon and Wembley.

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