A Holiday Open House with Style!

Written by Mud Pie Territory Manager, Tracy Alvord

It is never too early to get a jump on the holidays! You want to get out ahead of the competition and start spreading good will and good cheer! So, put on your Santa’s helper hat and let’s get started!

Start early – the first open house of the year always has the potential to get the average buyer thinking ahead and making their holiday shopping list! A GREAT impression at your event can bring the gift shopper back a few times between now and December 25th.

Here are a few best practices from the experts like offering a special promotion, festive ideas and tips to market your event!

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the party!

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A Holiday Open House with STYLE!

Orignial copy dated 10/11/2011 – Edited October 18, 2013 

It is never too early to get a jump on the holidays!  You want to get out ahead of the competition and start spreading good will and good cheer!  So, put on your Santa’s helper hat and let’s get started! Start early – the first open house of the year always has the potential to get the average buyer thinking ahead and making their holiday shopping list! A GREAT impression at your event can bring the gift shopper back a few times between now and December 25th.

 

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- the whole world is BUSY and weekends are taken.  HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE PARTY!

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 it FESTIVE and filled with holiday good cheer!
  • Jingle bells on your front door can greet the guests
  • Don’t forget a wreath or stocking or holiday greeting on your door
  • You can set the scene with red Santa hats on all employees
  • Take pictures of your customers enjoying the festivities and post on your store’s website, Facebook page, newsletter and in the store for everyone to see.
  • Decorate around the theme – Hang paper snowflakes from the ceiling, or silver bells or glittery stars.
  • Pre-wrap gifts and use to decorate your store anywhere you want your guests to think – this would make a great gift!
  • Have Santa or Mrs. Claus greet all who enter!

Music:  The music should reflect your theme. Here are some traditional suggestions:

  • The Drifters “White Christmas”
  • Bing Crosby – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
  • Frank Sinatra – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
  • Brenda Lee “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
  • Peggy Lee – “Winter Winterland”
  • Eartha Kitt – “Santa Baby”
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio – Charlie Brown Theme Song
  • Boston Pops – “Sleigh Ride”

Drinks & Appetizers

  • Holiday cookies and decorated cupcakes
  • Peppermint bark candy
  • Holiday Frosted brownies
  • Your favorite cheese ball recipe
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Fresh veggies and dip
  • Festive non-alcoholic punch
  • Mulled Cider
  • Hot cocoa
  • Spice tea
  • Hint- Use the serving pieces, paper table ware and tools you sell when serving your guests.  PLUS…be sure to sample some of your food items that you sell in your store as well.

Give Away ideas

  • Candy canes to all who enter
  • Small cello wrapped party favors tied with festive ribbon – the favor could be filled with small hard candy and treats
  • Miniature stockings filled with Hershey kisses wrapped in red and green foil.
  • A tiny sprig of evergreen tied with a ribbon.

Prize Drawings

  • A giant stocking filled with treats and give-away’s.  Don’t forget to ask all your reps for extras!
  • A trip to a local spa or salon (coordinate with a local spa, in return for free advertizing)
  • A giant potted poinsettia donated by a local florist – in return for some free publicity
  • Gift cards to your store for their next stop in – ALWAYS promote a repeat visit!

Promotions

  • Promote gifts for every person on your list – students, teachers, and all the women in your life. Group together products by interest, personal taste, and budget.
  • Pull displays together by price point and by theme – this is the time to promote all things luxurious. The best bath products, the softest robe, or fluffiest powder puff, the fine leather wallet or journal.
  • Offer free gift wrap AND delivery with a minimum purchase.
  • Don’t forget the buyer with the long list to buy for – several teachers, nieces, ladies group, large family. 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.

 

Something extra special

  • Invite a local choral group to carol throughout your store during your event or to make a special appearance just outside, when you expect to be busiest. You could offer a donation to the group’s favorite charity in exchange for the caroling.
  • Pay local college students (or make a donation to their local club, sorority) to serve as waiters for your big day.
  • Live entertainment of any kind is always special- an acoustic guitar and singer.
  • Consider the lovely music of a harp or violin. Can you recruit someone from a local college?
  • Have Santa on hand for the children (and the big kids). Have a photographer on hand to capture the fun.
  • Have food tastings and demonstrations during your event. Sell the food or treats, or the prep tools and serving pieces used.  This is the time of year we entertain the most. Everyone is looking for fast and fabulous! Send everyone home with the recipe!
  • Offer valet parking, with the tips going toward a local cause or charity.
  • Ride your guests to and from their cars in a golf cart, if your town approves. Decorate the cart accordingly.

Marketing- in your e-blasts, flyers, or paper invitations

  • 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.

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.
  • Adopt a family for the holiday season
  • 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.

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 SEASON!!!  This is simply the BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!

Holiday Open House Brings Thousands of Customers through the Store

By Majda Rensberger, OneCoast Contributing Editor – 10/11/2010

Every November, Tweed, a gift and accessories store in Richmond VA, prepares for their biggest event of the year: the Holiday Open House.  It’s their official kick off to the holiday season and one that their customers eagerly await.   “We have customers who start coming into the store in September asking for the date of our Open House,” says Kate Stottlemeyer, owner of Tweed. It’s so big that due to its popularity and large traffic,  has evolved into a three day event sending up to a thousand customers through the store.

Holiday Open Houses are a crucial element to your 4th quarter business. They are an opportunity to capture holiday sales early, create buzz in the community and bring customers back a few times before the 25th.  For six years, Tweed has hosted a Holiday Open House event and every year it grows bigger and more successful.  With 300-500 customers shopping on Saturday, the main event day, Kate simply describes it as a “mad house” and shopping for customers was tough. To make shopping easier, they extended the event from one day to three days.

Between the three days of the event up to 1000 customers shop the store. “Our Open House days are by far our biggest sales days – 3 times as high as our best (non-open house day).  And, knock-on-wood, we’ve been able to break our record every year!”

Timing is Key

Holiday shopping being the most competitive time of the year, Kate suggests being the first one to have your Open House.  Kate uses the College football schedule as a factor in planning and schedules her event the days when local college games are at home as they gain additional traffic from town visitors.  If you don’t have a college football game to plan around, consider the weekend after Black Friday. With Black Friday being a high traffic day every year, an Open House event the weekend after gives customers yet another strong incentive to shop your store.

Giveaways/Promotions

“I would absolutely offer a discount,” says Kate, “and it doesn’t have to be huge. We offer 15% off the entire store, and you would think it was 50% based on the shoppers; something to incentivize people into the store for the event.  Take the mentality of “if you build it, they will come”, and be ready for more than you expect (food, and staff).”

In addition to the discount, there are prize drawings and free gifts with purchase. Every customer that walks in enters a drawing for a free present. Tweed partners with various vendors like Mud Pie and Vera Bradley for free giveaways. Drawings are a great way to excite the customers but also build your database.

Gift with purchase is a great way to motivate customers to spend that extra $5 or $10. For every $50 purchase, Tweed gives away a free tote bag and customers love it.

So when you combine the discount, giveaways and gift with purchase with great food, music and people, you make your store, the store to shop.

Getting the Word Out

Getting 1000 people to shop your store requires marketing. In addition to word of mouth, Kate uses an integrated approach to her marketing, making sure that she reaches her most valuable customers every way she can.  That includes a post card invitation to customers who purchased within the last 12 months, email blast to the entire database of 4000 customers and Facebook to generate buzz and further spread the word.  Combined, these marketing vehicles drive traffic to your event.

Creating a Festive Environment 

Just like first impressions, the first step into your store is one of the most important ones. Liven your customer’s holiday spirit and inspire holiday purchases by creating an environment. “Our Open House days feel very festive with lots of food, music and decorations that spread the holiday buzz.” Displays are beautifully merchandised and capture attention, inspire ideas and most importantly inspire a purchase.

Service, Service, Service 

Just like first impressions, the first step into your store is one of the most important ones. Liven your customer’s holiday spirit and inspire holiday purchases by creating an environment. “Our Open House days feel very festive with lots of food, music and decorations that spread the holiday buzz.”  Displays are beautifully merchandised and capture attention, inspire ideas and most importantly inspire a purchase.

But in the end, what truly makes a Holiday Open House successful and what sets the stage for years ahead is your service. “One can offer the best promotions, serve the greatest food but it’s that human touch and relationship that makes it what it is. Our customers love coming to Tweed because we treat them like family,” says Kate.

When you walk into the store, a greeter welcomes customers with a big smile as they would a friend into their home. Staff is stationed throughout the store to answer questions and assist customers and vendors attend to help educate on their products.

Ready to make 2010 another record breaking event, Kate says it’s really simple: “Make it an event that is special and unlike any other day in your store.  Most importantly, have fun!  In a way, it’s a cocktail party and you and your staff are the hosts.”

A Look Inside: Q & A on best categories, trends & successes

Brief History of Tweed 

Tweed is a family owned and operated gift and accessories store in Richmond, VA.  We opened in Richmond in October, 2004, and just moved into a bigger location in June, 2010.  We have gifts and accessories for women, men, kids, babies, and your home!  We also have an e-commerce website: www.tweedathome.com that launched in November, 2009.

Q: What’s the biggest trend you are seeing in your store?

A: In this economy, the trend is gifts, gifts, and more gifts.  The option to re-decorate your home comes with a good economy, and when times are tougher, we’ve found that the gifts never go away.  So, we have definitely adjusted our inventory to be more heavily weighted on the gifts, and that has made a difference for us in the last couple of years.  The biggest trends in gifts…Initials and personalization are still going strong!

Q: What products sell best in your stores?

A: We have a variety of vendors – hundreds.  Purses, shoes, tote bags, entertaining ware, house wares…it truly is a little bit of everything.  Our store has something for everyone on your shopping list. Also, a key factor for us is price point.  We try to find the most unique and well-priced items.

Q: What categories sell best?

A: Women’s accessories; gifts for the Home; Collegiate; Jewelry; Baby; and anything personalized!

Q: What makes your store unique and keeps customers coming back?

A: The changing merchandise and the customer service. 

Q: What has been the best event you’ve held to date?

A: Our Holiday Open House.  Our second runner up is the Grand Re-Opening party we had when we moved into our new location (June, 2010).  We had a band and fabulous food – over 300 guests attended on a Tuesday evening in the summer…we were thrilled! We didn’t offer a discount, but we had plenty of giveaways, and artists/vendors on-hand.

Q: Besides events what do you do to market yourself?

A: Our website, Facebook, email, and local advertising in a few key publications.

Q: One IDEA to share with retailers?

A: We are working to create a more active Facebook page by offering weekly Facebook deals and giveaways.  We have seen the results of getting people into the store when you can keep dangling “teasers” in front of them!

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK DISCUSSION: What was your best event to date? What made it successful? Click here to respond.