"It's inevitable there will be a lot more pop-up shops, and the lines between a pop-up shop and a store will blur. It's just a shorter-term, more flexible lease, and a smaller-format store," Brendan Wallace, co-founder of Fifth Wall, a California-based venture capital firm focused on real estate technologies, told CNBC. His firm made a "significant," but unspecified, investment in Appear Here last year.
Using Appear Here's website, a potential tenant can browse available properties by location — East Village or SoHo in New York, for example — and view the rent price per day. The process bypasses the traditional brokerage firms that often get involved in these deals as an intermediary between landlord and tenant. A transaction that could sometimes take weeks now takes minutes.
"It's still an old school industry," Appear Here's chief marketing officer, Elizabeth Layne, told CNBC about much of the retail real estate sector today. "There is an understanding that we have a lot of vacant space, brands are changing, and people are talking more about Bonobos" and other e-commerce players growing in bricks and mortar, she said.
Even in urban shopping destinations like New York and Los Angeles, there's a glut of empty storefronts on the market, as rents have skyrocketed too high for many retailers. Unprofitable businesses meanwhile are moving out. More and more, tenants are in a position of power over the landlords when negotiating their way into a deal.
"Maybe we just really hit it right with timing. I think landlords are scared," Layne said. "They're not sure how they can change, and we offer a solution right there."
Appear Here's success stories include pop-up shops for Kanye West, Spotify, Netflix and street brand Supreme. The platform also has helped lease space within other retail locations, like Topshop, to brands looking for exposure within a niche setting. According to Layne, department store chains are even starting to reach out to Appear Here with hopes of filling unused space within their stores. "We are in talks with a few," she said.