A Year’s Worth of Events

Lynni Megginson has built a thriving business at her Maryland-based décor and gift store, L&M Designs, by staging terrific retailer events. Take a page from Lynni’s playbook; throw more events in 2009!Great events are unique and timely. Lynni puts together some terrific suggestions for events throughout the year. Use these ideas to put together a 2009 calendar of events.February • March • April • May • June • July • August • September • October • November • December

 

FEBRUARY
Mardi Gras Girls Night Out
“Laissez le bon temps rouler” as they say in N’awlins during Mardi Gras, or in plain old English “Let the good times roll.” Order in a bunch of inexpensive beads and masks from Oriental Traders or other bulk party favor resource. Ask a local Cajun restaurant to provide a cooking demonstration for quick and easy appetizers, play some Zydeco music to get the gals in the mood for fun. Give a demonstration on hosting your own Mardi Gras Party, complete with tabletop ideas. Offer a special discount on anything in the store purple or green.

 

MARCH
March is one of the most optimistic months of the year. Our clients see a light at the end of the dismal tunnel that has been winter, and are excited about Spring. Also, they have practically forgotten about those holiday credit card bills! Yay!This is the month to really emphasize brightly colored new items that represent the new season ahead, and motivate your clients toward new design projects and Spring Cleaning.First Day of Spring Fling!
Have an organizational expert come in from a closet company or a clutter control company and give your customers a KD event on sprucing up their homes for spring. Host a design seminar on hot trends for the year ahead. Share your ideas for Spring entertaining (Easter, St. Patty’s Day) or give a seminar on Fast Flower Arranging with spring flowers. Send an e-mail blast at the beginning of the month, choosing a spring color for each week and giving your customers a discount on any item that color during each week. You get the idea!Design Trends for the Coming Year Seminar
The beginning of a new season is a GREAT time to feature design trends, because people are ready for color and some excitement, especially if they have been deluged by dreary winter weather. Position yourself as the expert in your field, and don’t be afraid to show as many new design trends as you can…take requests for in-home consultations the night of the event.

St. Patrick’s Day
Host a seminar on how to host a perfect St. Patrick’s Day Party. Invite a local brewmaster to give a tasting of authentic Irish beers and their origins. Give any customer that comes in during the week of St. Patrick’s Day who is wearing green a special discount. Have a four leaf clover drawing. From a party supply store, cut apart a St. Patrick’s Day garland. Write a discount amount on each “clover” and put them into a basket for each customer to draw what her discount will be for the day.

Lynni Idea:
Why not invite your favorite OneCoast sales reps to your store for a breakfast “Brainstorming Session”? Lock yourself and members of your staff behind closed doors, and throw out any and all ideas that would benefit everyone and drive sales. Often reps have the advantage of seeing what works, and doesn’t work, while they are out in the field. Your reps should be your very best friends right now, because their business won’t be successful unless yours is. Partner together and come up with ideas that WORK!

 

APRIL
April is generally a very strong month for retail, although many consumers will hesitate to spend at the beginning of the month with the IRS deadline looming. The weather can be great, and warmer weather encourages customers to add new touches to their homes, especially when they may be hosting events such as graduation parties in their homes. Flowers are blooming so gardening events are great. People are spending money on updating their yards and homes, and planning their vacations and special events for summer. Here are some events to help your customers prepare for spring, Mother’s Day and Graduation.April Fool’s Day, April 1st
Anyone that visits your shop on April Fools Day and tells either the best trick they ever pulled on someone or the best trick that was pulled on them gets an instant in-store discount on any purchase made. Have them write their stories down…at the end of the day the customer who had the most outrageous story wins a gift certificate to your store.

Easter
Host your own “Easter Egg Hunt” with a slip of paper inside a plastic egg that has a percentage off that your customer can take during the event. Have a coloring contest for the kids the month before, and display the entries in your store.

Gardening Event
Invite a landscaping or gardening expert to host a seminar in your store. Create your own in store “gardening” area, complete with planters, trellises, etc., to set the mood for spring. Have a flower arranging event, asking customers to bring their own containers and make a custom silk arrangement in a style they design with you.

IRS Relief Party, April 15th
Pop some champagne and take 15% off any purchase on or on the closest day to April 15th. Have a door prize drawing for a gift card for those who are in need of a boost after paying their taxes!

Spring Entertaining
With all sorts of events coming up in the next few months, this is a great way to encompass a lot of information in one event. How about “Five Terrific Tabletop Settings in Five Minutes or Less” that gives ideas for five types of parties…all featuring merchandise from your store!

“Rain Rain Go Away” Email Blast
Send an email blast to all of your customers on March 31st, giving them a printable coupon that they can use any day it rains in the month of April. Make it significant enough to get them to venture out in dreary weather, plus boost your sales on dismal days.

 

MAY
May is generally a strong month for retail. With upcoming graduations and weddings in the summer months, people are getting their houses ready to entertain. Also with fewer rainy days, there are more home-improvement projects happening. People know the status of their tax return and know what they can spend. Their relief (or refund) leads to major purchases for the home.Cinco de Mayo, May 5th
Celebrate with a Fiesta! Break out the sombreros and invite your clients to a “Girls Night Out” on summer entertaining featuring the bright colors of summer. Serve margaritas and Mexican food, play salsa music, and let everyone kick up their heels for summer!

Mud Pie

Mother’s Day
Host a mother’s day “Tea for Two.” Serve cookies, petit fours, tea and champagne and encourage everyone to bring either their mother or their daughter. Have an expert on antique china come in and give a talk on the history of the tea service. Make moms “Queen for a day” by giving everyone that attends your event a tiny corsage to wear (a single flower with a pin will do it!).

Memorial Day
Most big box stores have major sales this time of the year, so it’s tough to compete with them on price. Instead, why not have a Memorial Day “Cook-Out” party and invite a chef from a local restaurant that specializes in ribs or burgers to come in and give a demonstration on tips and tricks for a perfect cookout. Have plenty of red, white and blue tabletop accessories on hand for a demonstration on setting a perfect picnic table. (Use any leftover merchandise for your Fourth of July event!)

Life’s A Breeze When You Add Accessories!
Host an in-store event on accessorizing. Give your clients quick tips to give their homes instant makeovers and show them how they can bring new life to a tired room by adding YOUR perfect accessories to the mix. Have a false mantle on hand and show them five ways they can dress up their fireplaces. Use a bookcase to demonstrate the fine art of “staging” your built-ins. Schedule mini in-home consultations for accessorizing homes after the event…give the consultations away free if your customers purchase a certain amount of merchandise the day of the event.

 

JUNE
With the hustle and bustle of school releases and graduation events, walk-in traffic tends to slow in June. Keep in mind that your clients are preparing to depart for their beach houses or their vacation destinations in the next month or two. Take advantage by generating as many sales as you can now. Don’t forget about having gift ideas for summer weddings on hand starting now!Father’s Day
Cross-promote with a local salon or spa and ask them to donate several “Father’s Day Spa Packages” that will be given out as a gift with purchase in your store. Let them know that this “gift with purchase” (after a certain significant dollar amount is spent) will enable them to give this great package to Dad for Father’s Day. If necessary, barter the cost of the spa packages at cost with your cross-promotion partner with merchandise from your own store!First Day of Summer (June 21st)
Celebrate summer with a Beach Party! Throw a Luau Party event. Drape your displays with grass skirts and give each guest a lei. Partner with a local gourmet shop and do a demonstration of floral arranging using tropical fruits and flowers. Ask a local party planning expert to speak to your group about expert summer party planning ideas from the pros.

 

JULY
July is usually a slower month for retailers, with the exception of resort destination shops, because new fall merchandise is not quite out yet and stores are having lots of “sales” to reduce their summer product inventory. The revenue from sales is what keeps most retailers happy, but they are selling their merchandise off price so the profit is much lower. Most people with school age children tend to vacation in the summer months, so walk-in traffic tends to slow a bit because so many people are away. Use this time to plan for your fall displays and update your store accordingly.Fourth of July Picnic
Most big box stores have major sales this time of the year, so it’s tough to compete with them on price. Instead, why not have a July 4th “Cook-Out” party and invite a chef from a local restaurant that specializes in ribs or burgers to come in and give a demonstration on tips and tricks for a perfect cookout. Have plenty of red, white and blue tabletop accessories on hand for a demonstration on setting a perfect picnic table.Super Summer Sidewalk Sale
Although I have said time and again that a sale is not an event, a major sale for a small retailer is something that all of their clients will look forward to. Now is the time to clear out ALL of that old, dead merchandise and get rid of it! Drag tables outside onto your sidewalk so it’s got a flea market feeling… everyone loves to get a bargain. The smart cookies out there will have brought in tons of “promo” merchandise that you can get for pennies on the dollar, mark it through the roof and then sell it at a huge discount, ensuring lots of profit.

Bastille Day (July 14th)
So, you’re not French? Big deal! Celebrate all things “Parisienne” by hosting a Bastille Day party. Wine, baguettes and cheese will set the mood (obviously pumped up a bit!) Have a French Restaurant do a food and wine tasting. Do a seminar on the impact of French Style in home décor. Play music to set the tone (Edith Piaf, etc) and have some ooh la la fun!

 

AUGUST
August is another optimistic month for retail. With summer winding down, people are in a panic to squeeze in that last vacation and get their kids’ back to school needs taken care of before they will focus on buying for themselves. Now is the time to plant some ideas in your clients’ minds about getting their homes ready for fall, because it’s just around the corner. If your clientele is largely based on young moms, you will see your sales pick back up once the kids are safely ensconced back in school.Pre-Accessorizing Postcard Event
Let your customers know that you’ve got tons of new merchandise rolling in for fall and encourage them to schedule an “accessorizing day” where you can bring out tons of product to their homes and transform them from “drab” to “fab.” Create urgency – only the first X number of people who call get this oppurtunity. This is sure to get your phones ringing off the hook. Have a calendar with specific times and dates available so you can fill up your dance card!Labor Day Picnic Event
Labor day is a toughie, because many people are out of town savoring their last real long weekend of summer. Depending on your clientele and your location, you can use the ideas we had for Memorial Day and Fourth of July for an event with ideas for fall entertaining. Remember all of the big boxes will be having huge sales, so don’t try to compete on price.

Lynni Idea:
In today’s economy, partnering with our vendors is more important now than it ever has been. In addition to the events that I’ve outlined, why not talk with some of your sales reps about hosting a “trunk show” in your store? Trunk shows are a great way to create special order sales without having to commit to a huge amount of inventory, and customers know that this is an opportunity that they must act on…NOW!

 

SEPTEMBER
September is a great month for retail. People are tired of the heat and are ready for cooler weather and a change of season. Once school starts back in earnest, people are ready to get their homes pulled together after a summer of being away. Now is the time to focus on accessories, accent furniture and other items that are needed before the true Winter Entertaining season hits.Fall Entertaining in a Snap!
Again, as we’ve done throughout the year with entertaining seminars, people love, love, love to get ideas for hosting parties in their homes. Fall tabletop ideas are a must, as are ways clients can say goodbye to summer and hello to the cozy days of fall.Transforming your home for the seasons
Give your clients ideas for toning down the bright accessories of summer toward the more muted colors of fall. Showcase floral arrangements, cachepots, lampshades and whatever else you can think of. Use fashion as a metaphor…just as we change our wardrobes for the season so should we change the décor of our homes.

Host a tailgate party
Show your team spirit by giving your clients ideas for the perfect tailgate party. Whether you’re an armchair quarterback or actually on the field before kickoff, host your own pep rally. If you live in an area with a college team, cross promote with the local alumni group or invite parents from the local football team for a private shopping day.

 

OCTOBER
October is the beginning of the all important fourth quarter of the year where we make most of our money! Sales are strong, people are back into a routine, and the days are cool and cozy. Suddenly, everyone realizes the holidays are just around the corner, so just as in September use the time to sell accessories, accent furniture and everything and anything for the home, because once the holidays hit they stop decorating until next year.Halloween
Halloween is the second highest retail holiday product category, after Christmas. Have a seminar on Spooky Halloween Entertaining, with creepy ideas for tabletops, and some ideas for food and cocktails as well. There are tons of great ideas on Halloween parties all over the Internet…do some research and interpret them in your own style. Encourage Moms to bring their kids in to Trick Or Treat in your shop…have plenty of treats on hand for the little ones.Decorating for Fall Holidays
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so give ideas for pulling your home together for the holidays. Floral Arranging with fall flowers is always popular, as are ideas to bring the Holidays into your Home. Demonstrate easy ideas for the perfect Thanksgiving sideboard. Have plenty of gorgeous platters, tureens, and serving pieces on hand for the hostess with the mostest.

 

NOVEMBER
November can, in many cases, be your biggest retail month of the year. Many people get in the mode of buying their Holiday gifts in advance and everyone, no matter what Holidays they celebrate in December, celebrates Thanksgiving with a passion! Stock up on hostess gifts, serving pieces and permanent botanicals for this month…this is your last chance to sell those all important high dollar accessory pieces. If not purchased by the third week of this month, anything your customers plan as far as home décor goes will screech to a halt as they prepare to deck their halls for the Holidays.Holiday Open House
If you haven’t gotten the gist of it yet, this is your month to pull out all the stops for your (what should be) Annual Holiday Open House. The big box stores have had their Holiday Décor on display since Labor Day and waiting until December is way, way too late to pull off this type of event. Hosting your event earlier in the month gives you the opportunity to include Thanksgiving, as well as the December Holidays in your merchandising.A Holiday Open House should be your one and only main focus in the month of November, especially if you take it to the extreme and actually close your store to prepare for it. This is the month where you definitely put all of your eggs in one proverbial basket. Focus, and profit!

 

DECEMBER
Every single type of business makes money in December, for people are in High Gift Buying Mode. Events should be hosted ONLY at the beginning of the month, as once the Holiday Party Bandwagon rolls out of the gate you will be hard-pressed to fill up your events any later than this. People are focused on making sure their houses are dressed in holiday finery for the season, so capitalize on this by offering in-home decorating services if you can.Dressing Your Home in its Holiday Best
Host a seminar where you give your clients the perfect ideas for dressing up their stairways, foyers, mantles and tables just in time for holiday parties they may be hosting. Offer to replicate the ideas and products shown with in-home decorating as your calendar will permit.Easy Holiday Entertaining
Demonstrate quick and easy centerpieces that anyone can do in a snap, as well as ideas for your Top Ten Hostess Gifts and elegant tabletop ideas. Ask a local caterer to provide a tasting of hip new appetizers, as well as for trends in entertaining for the year to come.

Men’s Night Out
Here’s a twist…invite the Hubbies only to an evening of Private Shopping for their sweeties. Make sure there’s masculine libation on hand, as well as heavy hors d’oeuvres (remember, real men don’t eat quiche!). Have their wives/girlfriends’ wish lists on hand, as well as suggestions for the perfect gifts. Offer gift wrapping as well as delivery service if requested. Play lots of “Rat Pack” tunes…Frank, Dino and Sammy will set a cool vibe and encourage them to linger and enjoy themselves.

Like these ideas? Lynni’s Guide “The Absolutely Essential Guide to Planning Fabulous Retail Events” will turn these ideas into a well-planned event generating you thousands of dollars in sales. You’ll pay for the book in one event.
About Lynni Megginson