Sunday, July 12, 2009
Yesterday we visited the Annual Sidewalk Sale in Downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois. The place was crazy-busy, parking spaces were hard to come by and that's a good thing.
That's Dresden pictured above, he's the Greeter at The Saltbox House (http://www.thesaltboxhouse.com/). Dresden met us at the door with his big old, goofy doggy smile. Retailers Sandy and Sam kept shoppers happy with continuous conversation ala The View. They had refreshments, too -- you know our motto: FOOD is GOOD! Dresden and his humans definitely made this shop the highlight of our afternoon.
The Downtown Crystal Lake Sidewalk Sale planners did some really smart things, like the DJ playing music on a corner at the center of the sale. He paused about every third song to plug something going on at a specific store. He was playing disco while we shopped -- we always say disco is the sound of money. Music puts shoppers in a good mood and keeps them in the store longer. Which makes us wonder why Target stores are silent. No music. We could never figure that one out.
Sidewalk Sales are the staple of summer. Shoppers love them. And so do you because they are a great opportunity to get rid of the "dogs" (apologies to Dresden) that tend to pile up over the winter months. Sidewalk Sales have rules: follow them and your sale will be successful. Ignore them and you will have to haul all that stuff you didn't sell back into your store.
1. If you 're going to hold a Sidewalk Sale, hold a SIDEWALK SALE. Make it festive with balloons and banners to attract attention to your store. Hire a DJ like Downtown Crystal Lake or invite a band to play. Ask a local church to host an Ice Cream Social in your parking lot. Invite the high school Booster Club or local sports team to sell hot dogs. In other words, make your Sidewalk Sale an EVENT that will entice shoppers to stay longer and shop more. Use it as a means to meet new customers and grow relationships with your loyal customers.
2. Shoppers need to be able to instantly understand your prices. One store we visited had big yellow tags that read "- 50%" on one line and "$30.00" on another. Okay, does that mean the item is $15 or is it already marked at half off? Turns out it was the latter. Make it easy on the shopper: show both the original price and the markdown price. They like to see what kind of a deal they are getting.
3. Sidewalk Sale markdowns should be deep. The product is on the sidewalk because it needs to GO. 20 percent off is an inside-the-store markdown; 40 -- 60 percent off is a Sidewalk Sale markdown.
Try a Progressive Sidewalk Sale: For example, markdowns start at 40 percent off on Friday, 50 percent off on Saturday, and 60 percent off on Sunday. For a one-day sale, reduce prices throughout the day. Use this slogan: “Shop early for the best selection, shop late for the best price.”
4. The associates working on the sidewalk have to look like they are having a good time. No "I-can't-believe-I-have-to-sit-outside-in-this-heat" faces, like a sidewalk sale is some kind of punishment. A smiling face always makes shoppers feel welcome.
Kudos to the associate at Ms. Bossy Boots. She knew how to work the crowd! Women love shoes and we love them even more when the store's associates love us back. And yes, Georganne bought a pair. Okay, several pair. And a handbag ...
5. Bounce 'em back! Create a Bag Stuffer that talks up an upcoming in-store event, or use it as an institutional ad for your store. Add a Bounce Back Coupon to bounce shoppers back later when most of the store is at regular price.
6. Make it an annual event. Customers look forward all year long to annual events that are done well. Perception is everything -- make yours a good one!
Drop us an e-mail for tips on how to run a successful sale. And make plans now to join us at the CHA Summer Show in Orlando on Monday, July 27 for "4th Quarter Calendar: EVERYTHING You Need to Run In-Store Events that Build Sales!" Click for more info: http://www.chashow.org