Indeed, photos of the shop show a sparsely stocked space, with a handful of racks lining the perimeter. (Those store associates must have been restocking at lightning speed.)
Prices for Pablo merch ranged from $35 for blue and red beanies that read “I Feel Like Pablo” to $400 for a pair of distressed jean jackets, with the average price clocking in at $116.50. Assuming West sold more merchandise on the days the store was open longer (the pop-up was open for four hours on Friday evening and eight hours on Saturday and Sunday), he would have needed to sell $62,500 worth of goods, or about 536 items, an hour. (To break it down even further, that’s about nine items per minute.)
Feeling Like Pablo: Inside (and Outside of) Kanye West's New York City Pop-Up Shop
Seems impossible, no? But Russ Miller, founder of pop-up retail specialist Vacant, which has worked on stores for several high-profile musicians including The Beatles, and Ana Pelucarte, co-founder of Pop-Up Mob, which has worked with French luxury fashion house Mugler and men’s streetwear brand Zanerobe on pop-up shops in downtown Manhattan, believe it is possible, given the reported level of demand for Pablo-branded goods, particularly among resellers. In fact, both noted that the Supreme store a few blocks over on Lafayette Street has likely generated similar, if not better, sales numbers on some release days. (A spokesperson for Supreme did not respond to a request for comment by press time.)
But even if West’s $1 million claim isn’t bogus, he certainly didn’t take home nearly that much cash. “When you rent in such a prime location for only three days, the price is going to be very high, plus you need five times the staff a typical 3,600-square-foot location would have,” Pelucarte says, estimating that the total operating cost was somewhere in the $100,000-$300,000 range. Even assuming the margin was higher than the 50-60% retailers see on most full-price items -- and indeed, many of those who bought merch from the pop-up noted that the $45 T-shirts looked like $4 T-shirts that had been screen-printed -- total profit probably rang in at about $300,000, she estimates. That won’t put much of a dent in West’s alleged $53 million in debt.
While $300,000 seems like a comparatively paltry sum at the end of the day, there’s no doubt about it: West’s pop-up venture was a triumph. “If you ask me, it was a success,” says Pelucarte. “Pop-ups are used for press and media, and If you break even, it’s already a success.”