The other day I was chatting with one of the very successful retail store owners on our advisory board, Patti Harbin of In-Courage, and I asked her about some of the strategies she uses to keep her business growing.
One new direction she started taking several years ago was to set up a booth at a local show (open to the public) that draws more than 30,000 people from a wide radius in Texas. At the show she sold thousands in products and was able to build her brand in the community. For months after, new customers stopped by the store and told her they shopped at her booth and wanted to check out her store.
Although the show is a lot of work, she reports it's definitely worth it.
Here are a few tips if you think a show may be right for you:
- Patti told me she researched the show and attended it the year before she set up her first booth. While there, she asked the other vendors for tips and if they would recommend the show.
- The first year, Patti stocked her booth with products that were supposed to go in her stores. She says, "That was a big mistake, so now I order separately for my booth and my stores." It left her empty in the store for some time until the replacement inventory arrived and that lowered her store sales.
- Make sure you have enough staff. Since the show that Patti does has a big volume of attendees, it requires five to six employees at all times to keep the lines moving, re-merchandise once products sell out and answer questions.
- Talk to show management and ask loads of questions (how many people do you anticipate, how long has the show been running, what products sell best, who are your top vendors, how do they market the show, etc.). In the second year, Patti asked the show management if she could become a sponsor and hand out bags imprinted with her store name and website. Now "everyone walks the show with an In-Courage bag and that also helps to build brand awareness."
What's great about doing shows is that it enables you to promote your store while bringing in extra revenue. It's like getting paid to market your store!