Start Up in a Shipping Container!

Sally on April 10, 2019
container office conversion London outside view

Looking to set up or grow your own small business, but struggling to find the right space at an affordable price? Shipping containers offer both flexibility and low start up costs, as well as a reduced carbon footprint by re-purposing and up-cycling existing material! And, they’re always a conversation starter.

We’ve had a look, and come up with our Top Ten list of small businesses which would thrive in a converted shipping container. Whether quirky, modern or functional, a converted shipping container can help you to stand out against other small businesses.

Retail Units

A full side access shipping container is an excellent choice for a pop-up retail unit. Utilising the full opening side, Superdry were able to set up a portable pop-up shop to display their new line.

Another example of a perfect retail unit is the one we converted for use as a Garden Centre in Snowdonia! This unit was cladded to meet the strict planning permissions which came with the land, and has since been added to with a small cafe style container and storage unit!

container pop up shop Superdry open
shipping container garden centre shop

Art Gallery

Shipping containers provide a unique and contemporary space to create, display and sell your art work. You can even hire it out to other artists for exhibitions or work space!

Studio Space

Whether you’re into sculpture, photography, candles, metal work, workcraft or ceramics, a shipping container can be completed with a variety of modifications designed to allow light and air into your work environment. We worked with RIBA award nominated architect, Simon Astridge, on a Porcelain Gallery for his client, right in the heart of London. This design allowed for plenty of light and space, using just four small sized containers!

Other studio inspirations:

  • Music practice
  • Yoga
  • Mini gym
  • Dojo
container office conversion London outside view
container office conversion with outside staircase
container pop up cafe cladded
containers for pop up catering

Food and Catering

We love the recent trend to re-purpose shipping containers and turning them into pop-up cafe’s and bars. The possibilities are endless.

Our favourite two conversion projects for food and catering using shipping containers were for a small start up in Tavistock, Trudy Scrumptious, who turned a shipping container into an ice-cream parlour and cafe. The second was a container turned into a small fish and chip shop down in Hayling Island with a canopy hatch.

Hair and Beauty

A beautiful interior will make people forget they’re getting their hair and nails done inside a shipping container! See how the KCB foundation in Kenya launched their franchise Shipping Container Salon for Health and Beauty graduates looking to open their own business.

Catwalk Container Conversion

Event Space

Shipping containers can be transformed into the ideal event spaces for small businesses. Perfect for hiring out for festivals, shows, parties, as tiny concert halls or as a unique fashion show catwalk! Using a shipping container as an event space not only helps you to stand out in the crowd, but the novelty means you’re bound to have plenty of photos of your unit pop-up all over social media – your container becomes your best selling feature!

Office Space

Your typical office spaces can often be difficult to find, and expensive to rent or buy. Using a shipping container as your small businesses office can be the perfect solution when you’re working on a budget.

If you’re worried about space, you can always consider a new build – designed to your measurements – like the Parkstone Bay Marina did. It’s a slightly more expensive option than a standard container, but will provide you with the space you want at a lower cost overall than the long term commitments of office rental.

Office container conversion inside with view
Office container conversion inside
cladded container workshop with sliding doors
cladded container workshop on location


Secure and portable, a shipping container workshop means your small business can be on the move if needed. It’s an excellent start up opportunity if you specialise in repair of bikes, computers or mobile phones.

Converted workshop containers are also great if you need a workshop somewhere remote – such as the one we converted for Cheshire Wildlife Trust. This unit needed to be accessible for volunteers to mend broken fences, or make outdoor repairs where needed!

Self Storage

And, of course, the perfect start up opportunity using shipping containers is the self storage facility! Spacious, secure and stackable (to maximise your floor space and potential earnings!), shipping containers are the ideal self storage unit. To see how much the standard shipping container costs, give us a call, or why not visit our online container store for more information.