Over the past couple of years or so, Malaysia has seen its scene for pop-up stores and flea markets develop from rudimentary to something quite elaborate and nuanced.
As a result, many local businesses have seen success by way of public exposure, much of it to do with how much traction they’ve garnered by being at a happening pop-up bazaar.
One of the key players here is RIUH In The City—or more commonly just referred to as RIUH.
With its inception close to two years ago, RIUH was founded as part of MyCreative Ventures—a government initiative started over six years ago to help provide funding to the local creative scene across pillars such as performing arts, fashion, literature, and culinary arts.
But over time, theventure saw that despite the amount of funding being poured into thescene, there was a gap in terms of how the players in the scene couldget themselves noticed by the everyday consumer.
“We saw that even though there was funding for production and marketing, there was a void in terms of distribution,” said Head of RIUH Melissa Low.
“We noticed that to hold events in places like shopping malls would be very costly, so we decided to start a distribution platform.”
“We were inspired by other similar markets happening internationally such as the Finders Keepers Market in Australia, and we decided to start RIUH.”
Creativity Is The Priority
As part of agovernment initiative, RIUH’s aim is to make itself a creativeplatform first and foremost, with the retail segment of their eventcovering the first of four pillars, the other three being education,live performances, and artistic exhibitions.
“The idea is tobridge the gap between the community and the creatives,” Melissasaid. “And each time we have a RIUH event, we change the contentsso everyone gets an equal opportunity.”
Explaining this policy of switching things up, Melissa elaborated that with every iteration of RIUH there would be a distinct theme, such as their most recent “rhapsody” theme that featured plenty of throwback elements from the 70’s.
And with each theme, there would be mini events scattered throughout the two days that would befit the theme, calling on artisans and businesses to conduct workshops, performances, or sell products somewhat related to the theme.
“Through these performances and workshops, we hope people will begin to appreciate what’s on offer, and therefore start buying the products sold by these vendors,” Melissa said.
True to form, Melissa also explained that for RIUH, the objective has always been sustainability rather than profits, and that the long-term vision was for things to get to a point where markets and events like these can keep on running without the need for governmental support.
“Because we’rean initiative, we’re just trying out best to keep it sustainable,”Melissa explained. “As it is, it’s good to see this sort of aidfor the creative community considering how under-supported it is.”
“But at the end ofthe day, what we really want is for more private entities to come inand help keep things going, and we’ve already been seeing more andmore support from these private bodies, which is a good sign.”
So far, RIUH has seen the attendance for its monthly event experience significantly positive reception and growth. When they first kicked off, their first RIUH In The City Event saw 6,500 visitors, which now pales in comparison with the 17,000 crowd that they can sometimes manage to pull in at their latest Sentul Depot venue.
And more impressively, they’ve cumulatively (since starting out) helped local artisanal vendors make over RM3.2 million in sales.
According toMelissa, this positive growth has given them the impetus to expandand grow—geographically and collaboratively. This year, RIUH hasplans to host similar events outside of the Klang Valley, withKuching and Ipoh slated as upcoming destinations, and they’re alsomaking efforts to partner with e-wallets such as Maybank’s MAE tomake payments in their markets much easier.
RIUH In The Future
Looking ahead, the challenge for RIUH will now be to constantly manage expectations for an event that is held only once every month.
But with so many artisanal businesses wanting to get a slice of the RIUH pie, Melissa and her team now have the unenviable task of regularly picking through thousands of applications to see which ones do get invited to the next RIUH, and to more crucially ensure that each one gets a chance eventually.
“Also, people getbored easily, so it’s another challenge for us to keep RIUH freshand exciting with new concepts and ideas to keep visitorsinterested,” Melissa noted, adding that she feels the hard work nowwill eventually lead to a brighter future for Malaysia’s creativescene.
“It must be said that Malaysians are kind of slow to pick up on trends, but I think if events like these can do well, they’ll be here to stay for a long time.”
Feature Image Credit: RIUH