Kick Off Indie Retailer Month with Patriotic Pride

1. Theme – Summer is upon us and with that comes the promise of summer fun – vacations, travel, and the promise of summer adventure.  Plus…smack in the middle of summer is 4th of July and a great holiday to kick off Independent Retailer Month.  Getting started – think of all the merchandise in your store that can apply to this summer’s needs.  Be it paper and party ware for casual outdoor entertaining or serving pieces and gifts for the more formal event- Get ready to pull it all together and capitalize on summer’s gift, travel and entertaining needs!  

BEST PRACTICES from the experts – Offer a special or promotion, to get the foot traffic in the door. Market your event heavily – GET THE WORD OUT! And last thing, Offer a rain date alternative for any specials or promotions- the whole world is BUSY and weekends are taken. HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE PARTY!

2. Make your party FUN!!!
Go all out- from the minute you walk in the door to the last impression at your cash wrap, let’s make sure it is evident to all who enter that there is something special happening! Decorate around your theme –
  • Don’t forget to set the scene at the entrance with red, white & blue. Patriotic pride is all around! 
  • Pinwheels, streamers blowing in the breeze (or a fan), kites, smiling sunshine faces – the local dollar store can be a great resource for inexpensive décor.
  • Think about summer activities- baseball games, picnics, pool parties, beach trips and family fun- incorporate these into your décor theme with photos, clip art, and gift giving suggestions posted around the store. 
  • Customize the theme to your region’s favorite summer pastimes- fishing? Is your town home to a minor league ball team? Baseball…the American pasttime. 
  • Snap photos of your guests for Facebook. 
3.  Music: 
The music should reflect your theme, and there is nothing fun about a party without music! Here are some 4th of July suggestions:                                                                 
  • American Woman – Lenny Kravitz
  • American Girl – Tom Petty
  • America – Simon and Garfunkel
  • Party in the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus
  • Living In America – James Brown
  • R.O.C.K in the U.S.A. – John Mellencamp
  • In America – Charlie Daniels Band
  • Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
  • Surfin’ Usa – Beach Boys
  • God Bless The U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood
4.  Drinks & Appetizers:
  • Mini burgers and mini hot dogs
  • Veggie trays- the bounty of summer goodness
  • Potato salad in small cups
  • Think finger foods- finger sandwiches 
  • Anything satisfying but light- Yogurt cups.
  • Fruit skewers and sliced watermelon 
  • Popsicles shout summer fun!                       
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Champagne spritzers or create a special cocktail (Need ideas? http://mixthatdrink.com/fourth-of-july-cocktails/)
  • Ice down mini bottles of water in a large pail or server you sell

Hint- Use the serving pieces, paper table ware and tools that you sell when serving your guests. 

5.  Give Away ideas:
  • Samples of any product line you carry. Contact your sales rep or the vendor for additional samples for the special day.
  • Especially easy are bath or fragrance lines 
  • Samples of any food goodies you sell- dips, sweets, munchies
6.  Prize Drawings:  
  • Tickets to local Arts in the Park
  • Local baseball game tickets
  • House sitting or dog sitting services for use during a trip or vacation
  • A trip to a local spa or salon (coordinate with a local spa, in return for free advertising) – Think pampering!
  • Free makeover with a local make-up artist
  • Free hair salon visit, color consultation
  • Do a grand prize giveaway that includes a Summertime picnic basket filled with picnic items such as napkins, serving trays, blanket, wine and glasses. 
  • Gift cards to your store for their next stop in– ALWAYS promote a repeat visit!
7.  Promotions – Promote all things that = Summer fun in your store
  • Think about summer getaway needs- travel bags, totes, cover-ups, summer fashion
  • Casual entertaining and time spent outdoors- party ware, acrylic drink glasses, ice buckets, melamine serving pieces.
  • Summer gift giving wouldn’t be complete without the nod to summer weddings and shower gift needs-serve ware, home accents and décor, kitchen and cooking related product.  
  • Promote gifts for every person on your list- birthdays, grads, and weddings. Group together products by interest, color, personal taste, and budget. 
  • Pull displays together by price point and by theme.  
  • Offer free gift wrap AND delivery with a minimum purchase.  Think personalized, pampering service.
  • Reward this buyer with ‘Buy More, Save More’ deals.
  • Give a discount on multiple buys and complementary items- Buy two regular priced items, receive a third free (equal or less value)
Buy two, get one free accomplishes two goals – You move product and your customers benefit from the great buys.  You create a ‘customer for life’ with deals and legendary service.
8.  Something extra special: 
  • Hold a silent auction of a collection or category in your store; add value by including a store gift card, a local gardening expert, or service related gift.  
  • Do an hourly drawing with either in store gift cards or services donated by local businesses- local spa, car wash, café, pet grooming.
  • Offer valet parking, with the tips going toward a local cause or charity.  
9.  Marketing- e-blasts, on your fb page, flyers, or paper invitations.
  • Start by posting your upcoming event plans on your store’s Facebook page and homepage of your website
  • Create buzz by asking your customers what their favorite summer memory is- use fb to start the conversation.
  • Make a contest out of it and ask your fans to vote on the ‘best’ memory
  • Reward the winner with a free gift or discount
  • Create event flyers and insert them into every customer’s bag at purchase for two weeks minimum before the event.
  • Send an e-mail blast to your customer base inviting them to the event with a special offer for them and a friend (Great word of mouth advertising and you could double your traffic.) 
  • Ask them to print the eblast and bring to the event or mention the invitation to be eligible for a special discount, treat, gift, etc.  This allows you to track the effectiveness of your emarketing.
  • Post your event on Community Bulletin Board and your local hot spots
    • Local Coffee Shops
    • Local Restaurants
    • Local food markets
    • Kid’s gyms & karate schools- anywhere the lady of the house is sure to see your advertisement. 
  • Invite the local media to your event 
  • Phone your BEST customers a week before the event and extend a personal invitation to these special buyers. 
10. Partner up with a charity 
  • Any women’s or children’s charity 
  • Local food shelter- give a discount or gift to anyone that brings non-perishable food to donate at the event.
  • Connect with anything local that may be a focus in your community.  
HINT: Tying your event to a charity can give you great PR. Inform your local TV channels, newspapers, radio stations and invite them to your event.  
 
11.  Set your event apart:
  • Don’t forget the everyday gift giving needs that we all must buy for- birthdays, births, showers, and weddings. These occasions are ‘recession proof’. Be ready with your ‘silent sales person’ – the beautiful displays you put together.  
  • If your store gift wraps, be sure you are ready with gift appropriate wrapping paper for all the possibilities.  Think about offering free gift wrap on event day.  Or free with a minimum purchase.
ENJOY THE PARTY!!!!  SHOW YOUR CUSTOMERS HOW MUCH YOU LOVE AND APPRECIATE THEM!!!

Create a Crowd for Independent Retailer Month

Ever notice how traffic slows on a busy highway when there is a police officer on the side with their lights flashing? The same goes for a grocery store; someone is offering samples and has drawn a crowd. Even more people join the crowd. It is just human nature; we are all curious.

Independent Retailer Month can work the same way for you. The month long celebration was created to help your business have an opportunity to draw special attention to you. So, what can you do to make this happen?

The first suggestion is that you tell, using social media, your website, your traditional advertising, and signage in your business how their shopping a locally owned business benefits the community. When you visit the website, www.independentretailermonth.com, you will find a lot of information that shows how doing business with the local independent businesses will greatly affect your community in a positive manner.

You can call the media and offer to be the local expert on Independent Retailer Month by sharing this information with the local radio stations, television stations and newspapers. A morning talk show on the radio or televisions is an excellent way to get some exposure for your business and the event. When they interview you, they are surely going to mention you by name and identify you as the owner of your business. This is free advertising.

Be sure to contact the offices of your mayor or other elected officials to get them to issue a proclamation to celebrate Independent Retailer Month. Perhaps the proclamation can be signed at your business. Regardless of where it is taken, be sure that any photographs taken of the signing have you in the picture.

If your business has windows that your customers seek, you can use some tempera paint to put some of this information. To make it unique, you can change the message each day as a way to get your customers to come by and see what the message of the day is.

If you choose to have special prices during the month, you could offer a special item each of the 31 days. You could draw additional attention to the event by having the ending two digits of the price of these items be ’31’.

Of course you know that in your neighborhood or community, there are numerous other independent retailers. Partnering with these other businesses can expose customers of one business to the second business. As an example, the local bakery shop could partner with a dress shop to offer samples of their delicious pastries to those visiting the dress shop.

You could partner with 31 other businesses to have them in your business each of the days of the month. And you should suggest some of these other businesses do what you are doing and invite you to be introduced to their customers in a similar method.

Again, joining with other businesses you could create a card that customers would carry and have stamped as they visit each of the other businesses. If they visit all of the participating businesses, at the end of the month, cards could be submitted for a drawing for a prize. Each of the participating stores can offer a prize so that more customers are rewarded.

If this is your first year of participating in Independent Retailer Month, make a commitment to yourself now that it will not be your last. When the event is over for 2014, the month of August is the best time to take some notes with regard to the results you achieved as well as make your plans for participating in 2015.

Independent Retailer Month is a celebration of you and the thousands of businesses around the world who are proud and active members of your local community. Have a great time at the celebration and be sure to have plenty of events that will slow people down to notice you just like the flashing lights of the police cruiser.

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The Profits Plus website provides that assistance to you through the many calculators, articles, and other tools created by small business expert Tom Shay. Shay, a fourth generation small business owner and speaker talks from experience. Shay’s knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. Shay also works with manufacturers and wholesalers to help their staff understand the complexity and challenges these small businesses face. Helping these suppliers to have the knowledge to assist these small businesses allows the supplier to be a more valuable partner. For more information, visit The Profits Plus website at profitsplus.org or email Tom at tomshay@profitsplus.org