Small Shops Join Forces – Unite for a Festival

You’re a small store owner and you want to improve your bottom line. If you’re in a shopping center, look around. Each store in your vicinity has a group of people who regularly frequent their store. In smaller shopping centers, it is far more likely to have a customer park, go into one store, and then return to their car and leave. How can you change that?

Small business owners unite!

Join forces with the other stores in your areal. It doesn’t matter if you are all of differing businesses. If you can present a united front to the public you will all benefit from the joint effort. Even if you work next door to one another, you might have been so busy getting your business going that you really didn’t take the time to introduce yourself to your shop neighbors.

Go in and introduce yourself. Share a little bit about you and what you do. Ask a few questions about what your neighbor does and see if they might be interested in creating a shopping center group where you work together a few times a year on a project designed to bring people into the shopping center for an event that will benefit everyone.

One really great idea is to do an outreach in your neighborhood. Do something that might benefit the people of the neighborhood, or a nearby school. This helps to cement the idea of community and creates a sense of belonging both for your neighborhood as well as for the other shopkeepers in your center.

When you join forces, when you unite, obviously someone is going to have to be in charge. If you’re one who is reading this, it is probably going to be up to you. Or, if you can identify someone who has a really gregarious personality and is engaging and is able to work well with other people, is fairly well organized, that is the person you want to head this kind of a group.

The idea is to make friends with the other businesses. Unless you’re selling exactly the same product, which you probably aren’t, being in the same shopping center, you might actually do better by having a great big event. Something that we used to do is ti have summer Friday Festivals. We would have a small up and coming band who was willing to donate their time, or maybe take up a collection and give them $50 and they’d play for three hours. You set them up outside if the weather is good enough. Inclement weather usually shut down the event.

Some people could provide popcorn, hotdogs, sodas, clowns, face painting. Each participating store needs to be open. What would be a good idea would be for each store to have some kind of a special going on that night only. The idea is, it is advertised as a Friday Fiesta or Friday Festival. You stay open a little bit later on a Friday night and during the summer more and more people are actually able to spend a little bit more time. They aren’t in a rush to get home, get dinner, so they can prepare for school and work the next day.

Many times, Friday evenings are a good time to have this special event in your shopping center. Advertise it. Hire a kid to pass out flyers in the nearby neighborhood. There are a number of ways to get the word out, but by uniting your forces, you expand the event. If only one single store were to have a special on one Friday night, that store would be able to bring in a few of its very best customers and would have a halfway decent night because your very best customers came on one of the Friday Fiestas. But, if you relied only on those really great customers, after awhile, the number of people coming on those Friday nights would diminish.

But, by having a united event in your shopping center, you’re going to tap into everyone else’s good customer list as well. If you have enough going on, if you have a good enough reason for people to come to your event, they’re going to tell their neighbor, their sister.

They’ll say things like, “Hey, do you want to go to a Friday Fiesta at the shopping center tonight? I went last week and got a great deal on this __________.” Fill in the blank. Word of mouth advertising is your very best, so the events have to be good!

Many small shops believe that they have to go it alone and there is strength in numbers and by uniting forces, you can have a really great event and a really successful event.

K Birmingham