25 Great Event Ideas from Independent Creative Retailers

This article is re-posted on the OneCoast Blog with permissions from the author(s).

25 ArticleHow’s your In-store Events and Promotions Calendar looking these days?  You do have one, don’t you? You need to run one MAJOR and two to three MINOR in-store events and/or promotions each and every month of the year.

A well done in-store event does more than just sell product, it attracts customers because there’s something different and unique and fun going on at your store. Events generate so much more than short term excitement, they create a lasting impression, and – this is important – an emotional connection with customers. This connection alone gives customers a reason to return. Short on ideas? Here are 25 events from creative retailers you can use in your own store:

1. “World’s Greatest Shopping Night”. Choose one night a week to stay open two hours late. Offer hot cider, cookies, and free gift wrapping.
2. School Fundraiser Night. Designate a specific day/night when customers can come in and shop. If they mention that specific school, you’ll donate 20% of the net proceeds to the school.
3. “Shop Hop”. From Wednesday through Sunday, each participating store offers make & takes and giveaways (often acquired through sales reps). The customers enjoy the camaraderie of other shoppers on the “hop”, and participating store owners enjoyed four times their usual sales, and finding new customers.
4. Home school classes. Offer a home school class once a month, for ages 6 and up. If you get the kids’ attention, you get Mom & Dad’s attention, and that can lead to sales.
5. “Pamper Yourself” Day. Invite a local massage therapist to come in for short neck massages. Offer an altered/art journal class for customers to document their New Year’s Resolutions. Demo a specific line of new products.
6. “Wild & Wacky Wednesdays”. Determine your lowest sales/traffic day and do a promotion that will encourage people to come in. One retailer started sending out email blasts on her slowest sales day, and invited customers to come in for “Wild Wacky Wednesdays”. She began by offering a quick make & take project and a tasty treat. Now customers look forward to Wednesdays where they might eat watermelon while making a card.
7. Monthly Scrapper’s Challenge. Create kits incorporating slow-moving product, and charge $5 for the kit. Participants must create a project using some of everything in the kit. They submit the projects to the store, and peer judging/voting lasts for two weeks. Winner receives a prize (product, store credit, a free class, etc.).
8. Mothers’ Day Out program. Do this two Fridays a month from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM. The first 1½-hour is a class; the 2nd 1½ hour is a crop. Offer a 10% discount on items purchased that day.
9. Scrap & Stamp Sessions. If your store suffers from low class attendance, offer a “Scrap & Stamp” session twice a month. One retailer described a technique-based, drop-in card-making series that she holds two Sundays a month. Customers can learn a new technique and make one card for $2.00.
10. Classroom page kits. Make up page kits for classroom use (include an in-store coupon!) for school teachers can use the kits in their classrooms. The kids take the coupons home to their parents.
11. “The Boss Is Gone” Sale. Whenever you go to a trade show or on vacation, send out an e-mail blast from the staff proclaiming the store is having a “The Boss Is Gone Sale”, as in “Mary’s gone to CHA, so we’re putting everything on sale!”.
12. Community School Classes – Open up your classroom to school teachers during the summer months to host classes. Don’t charge a room rental fee – just enjoy the additional revenue from their students.
13. Create card care packages to send to troops stationed overseas. One retailer packages two kits together with a glue stick and a pen. The kits are $5.00 if the customer donates the cards to the care packages, or $8.00 if they want to keep the cards.
14. Develop a “community partners” network. Seek relationships with other business owners. Determine whose customers scrapbook, craft, or just might be interested in getting creative, and ask if you can deliver informational seminars to their customers. Target businesses might include travel agencies, sports clubs, MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), the local Chamber of Commerce.
15. Summer Solstice Sale. Starting at sunrise the day of the Solstice, offer discounts that decrease hourly, i.e. 40% off at sunrise, 30% off from 6:00 -7:00 AM, 20% off from 7:00 -8:00 AM, 10% off from 8:00 -9:00 AM, etc.
16. Early store opening for working women. Open an hour early one day a week so working women have a chance to shop before work. Partner with a local bakery to bring in pastries. (Remember our motto: FOOD IS GOOD!)
17. Join a local networking group, and create cross-promotions with other members. Realtors like to give handmade items and scrapbooks as gifts for new home owners; funeral home owners may be interested in a simple scrapbooking kit to give to mourners.
18. Teen Crop Night. Display layout examples featuring teen interests and activities. Have a teen do a demo or make & take. Order pizza and stock plenty of soda!
19. “Lunch Break Make & Take” that’s targeted to working women. Hold it from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, twice a month, free of charge. This event proved so successful for one retailer that she also added, “Stop-in Saturday Make & Take” with longer hours.
20. Kids Scrapbook Club/Camp. Children ages 8-14, come to play Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM -12:00 PM. Cost is $150 for the whole week. Kids create an “All About Me” album as the project. This idea proved so successful for one retailer she’s held six sessions of the club, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas sessions!
21. Annual Scavenger Hunt. Hide very specific items around your store, such as a photo of your mother. Give customers a list of all the hidden items to find and check off. This encourages them to walk through your entire store, getting familiar with all the products you offer. The customer who finds the most items wins a basket of goodies.
22. Trade Show Recap Night. Discuss/describe various new products you saw (and ordered!). Share photos and potential projects. Give customers a preview of what will be coming in (and when). Raffle off goodies you picked up at the show, or use them as door prizes. Offer discount coupons to customers who bring a friend.
23. In-store Craft Fair. Host a craft fair in your store, featuring local artisans from area (non-competing) guilds, like quilting and pottery. Each artisan gets one classroom table to showcase her wares. They can advertise their participation in community publications, like church bulletins and neighborhood newsletters. Each vendor can make an in-store display to create buzz/interest before the event.
24. Frequent Shopper Program. For every $100 spent, the customer gets a free class. One retailer calls her program the “S.M.I.L.E. Card”, which stands for “Scrapping Makes Ideas Look Exciting”.
25. Crafters Yard Sale. Customers can “sell” their gently used product/supplies in your classroom for store credit.


KIZER & BENDER 2016 (1)Rich KIZER & Georganne BENDER | BIO 2016

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.

KIZER & BENDER are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People, are included in the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, and were listed among the Top 50 Retail Influencers two years in a row (2015 & 2016).

Their Retail Adventures blog was recently named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media, and one of the Top 50 Retail Blogs in 2016. And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer.

Any speaker can talk about consumers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can’t. The result of their research is literally straight from the mouth of the consumer: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers.

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