Perhaps you've seen those pop-up books -- the children's picture books in which cut-outs of characters and scenes fold out in front of you as you open each page.
Or pop-up ads -- those annoying advertisements that flash into the middle of the Web site you're trying to read on the Internet.
There are pop-up toys, too, like jack-in-the-boxes, in which a clown on a spring leaps up as you open the container.
And now there's a hot, new pop-up phenomenon. It's called the pop-up store.
Many of us remember the days when a vegetable peddler or knife-sharpener would drive his truck slowly down the street. He'd ring his bell, stop for customers, and move on. And there were the patent-medicine hucksters who would pull into town, set up a tent, hawk their high-alcohol potions, and be gone overnight.
They all helped inspire the idea of opening a store for just a week or a month or so, creating a buzz among customers. That buzz, you see -- the promotional impact of this disappearing act -- is the point of it all. It gets people talking and creates a demand. Before you know it, consumers are searching high and low for your product.
In Chicago, for instance, Kraft Foods rented an empty store on trendy Michigan Avenue and began passing out -- giving away! -- slices of DiGiorno pizza. Delta Airlines' discount carrier, called "Song," opened a store in York City's trendy SoHo District, then closed it a week later. The Kodak camera company kept a New York gallery open three weeks, just so folks could test its new photo scanners.
Did we tell you about the women's-fashion pop-up store in New York's Rockefeller Center?
Sorry. Too late. You missed it!