As of 28th May 2016, only the most current version of Aarcade themes will receive personal support and updates – read more…

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How do I install my Big Cartel theme?

Filed in Getting Started & Troubleshooting


  1. These instructions are used to successfully download and install our themes many times a day, by many different users, without any issues whatsoever.

    99.9% of the rare issues that are submitted to Aarcade support are due to incorrect installation and / or causes unrelated to our themes. In other words, if you follow ALL of the instruction steps precisely you will not have any issues with your installation.

  2. Do not use your own computer application to open your theme files during the following installation process. These applications often corrupt theme file content and will generate Big Cartel error messages.

    You must use our theme file tool to open your theme files as explained in the following installation instructions.

  3. Ignore your preview area during installation. Some browsers will persistently load old theme data during installation and cause your shop preview to look broken during installation.

    Ignore this preview and follow all instructions up to the final save and you will then be linked to the getting started article and instructions for clearing old data from your cache.

  4. If you would rather avoid the following installation process, you can have Aarcade install your theme for you by purchasing Big Cartel Theme Installation from the Aarcade shop.


When you use the theme download link provided by Aarcade (in the email sent to you at the time of your order), your theme package will be downloaded to your preferred location on your computer’s hard drive. This is typically your Desktop or Downloads folder.

You only need to click the download link once and then locate your downloaded package. If you click the link multiple times your link will expire and you will need to contact Aarcade Support to request a reset.

If you are having trouble locating your theme package, try searching for the package by name which will be the same as the theme name in lowercase with spaces replaced with hyphens. For example:

  • For the Uptown theme package search for “” or just “uptown”
  • For the Invisible Light theme package search for “” or just “invisible-light”

You can also use the Help menu in your web browser and/or operating system or Google search to find more information on locating your downloads.

If your download is failing before completion, perform troubleshooting according to any error messages you receive as well as your web browser and operating system help resources. We recommend starting with updating your web browser, including the section Troubleshooting browser issues.

Un-zip / Extract

Once you have downloaded and located your Big Cartel theme zip file on your computer’s hard drive, un-zip the package.

Your operating system may automatically un-zip your theme package after download. If you locate your theme package and it has already been un-zipped, proceed to the next stage of installation.

Un-zipping your theme package is usually achieved by double-clicking the zip file. However, for some versions of Windows, double-clicking will browse inside the zip file without un-zipping. In this case, you will need to right-click the zip file and select “Extract to..” (or similar extract command) and extract the zip file contents to your preferred location (e.g. your Desktop).

If you are presented with a “Confirm Encryption Loss” message during the un-zip process, simply click “Yes” or “OK” to proceed.

Your theme file must be properly un-zipped before proceeding with these instructions.

Your theme package should now appear as a folder, not a zip file, on your computer’s hard drive. Open the theme folder to browse the files that make up your new theme. Leave your file browser open and viewing these files, ready to access for installation.

Big Cartel Theme Files

Big Cartel Theme Files

Maintenance Mode and Theme Back-Up

Log in to your Big Cartel shop admin and place your store into maintenance mode via your Store > Settings – Options admin section as described in the Big Cartel “How does maintenance mode work?” help article.

Your new theme installation will overwrite your existing theme and any customisation you have applied to it. If you wish to back up your existing theme, download a zip file of your theme via your Customize design > Advanced (advanced) admin section as described in How do I back up my Big Cartel theme?.

Prevent Multiple Big Cartel Admin Sessions

If your Big Cartel admin – specifically the Customize design preview area – is open on any other devices (e.g. other users are working in the Customize design area or you are using multiple devices) this can overwrite or corrupt your new installation.

Exit the Customize design preview area on ALL devices for ALL users and then proceed to the next step using one computer / device only.

Prepare Your Big Cartel Admin Area

Prepare your Big Cartel admin area by logging back into your shop and:

1. Click the Customize design link at the top right of your Big Cartel admin area:

Customize Design in Big Cartel

2. Click the Themes icon (themes) in the customisation area, click Big Cartel’s Sexy theme – click Sexy even if Sexy is already selected – wait for your shop preview to finish updating and then click the Save link at the top right:

Select Big Cartel Sexy Theme

Load Big Cartel's Sexy Theme

Loading Sexy is important, as some other themes (like Sidecar) load products in a specific way that can cause a conflict with your Aarcade theme functionality.

3. Once your save has completed, click the Exit link at the top right to leave the Customize design area. Then re-enter the area by clicking the Customize design link as detailed in item 1 above.

Exiting and re-entering the Customize design area ensures that the Sexy theme has been properly and completely loaded.

4. Click the Advanced icon (advanced) at the top of the customisation side bar.

You will now see a list of your CSS and Theme Page edit links. Leave this Advanced area open in a separate browser window. You will need to move back and forth to this window as the installation proceeds.

If your Theme Page names do not match those shown below, repeat the above steps 1 to 4 – it is OK if your names are in a different order than shown, as long as your names match.

If you have Seamless checkout enabled, the Checkout and Success page will not appear in your Advanced panel.

Big Cartel Advanced Area

The Big Cartel Advanced Area


Click here now to launch the Open Theme File tool and follow the prompts for opening your theme files and copying them to your Big Cartel admin area.

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