A customer sent this article to us to pass on to our customers. Something they are going to try in their small town too.
Julie Lancia and Barb Mueller, the co-owners of JB Winterberry in
, explained how participating in a local Home Tour helps them promote their shop. Follow their tips to make this type of event work for you. Wheaton, Illinois
1. Show the community that your shop is alive and well by starting or participating in a local home tour. If your community has a home tour or another similar event, get involved! If your area doesn’t have one, start one! For the past five years, JB Winterberry has participated in the Center for History’s House Walk. For this event, select stores are asked to decorate one of five homes with fall decor. These houses are then opened to the public for a house walk. When Barb and Julie decorate the home, they include JB Winterberry touches in every room. Visitors see the creative displays and want to replicate them in their own homes, often going to Barb and Julie’s shop to find the exact same products.
2. Partner with another local business for products or services that you don’t provide. If you’d like to participate in a local home tour, but you don’t offer all of the products or services necessary to decorate an entire house, partner with another local business that can fill in the gaps. JB Winterberry doesn’t sell fresh flowers, so they asked a local florist to combine talents with them. Barb and Julie embellished the dining room table with a range of JB Winterberry products, and then on the morning of the walk, the florist delivered a fresh arrangement for the center of the table.
3. Offer to sell tickets for the event in your shop. When participating in any fund-raising event that requires tickets, offer to sell the tickets in your store. JB Winterberry sells tickets for the history center house walk for three weeks prior to the event. As a thank you from the history center, the shop’s advertising is free in a brochure that is distributed throughout the walk. Even if you don’t receive free advertising for selling tickets, it will still bring a lot of potential customers into your store.
4. Find out if your store name will be included in all promotional literature for the event. Most fund-raising events include participating businesses’ names in promotional literature, such as brochures, flyers, websites, etc., but make sure this is the case with your event. Participating in an event such as a home tour takes a lot of time and extra work, so you want to get your name out as much as possible.
5. Ask if you can include business cards or signs promoting your store in your decorated home. If you’re decorating a home with merchandise from your shop, ask if you can include cards or signage telling attendees where the products can be purchased. Just be sure to keep the cards or signs small so they aren’t distracting. For their house walk, Barb and Julie tucked small cards with JB Winterberry’s information in their home’s displays. This helped draw many attendees back to their store after the event.
6. Make sure your local media are covering the event. Whether it’s a local television station, newspaper or radio station, make sure local media outlets know about the event. Because of the community nature of a house walk, JB Winterberry usually receives local newspaper coverage, and two years ago, a local radio station held a live remote in front of the shop’s decorated home.
7. Tell staff members to talk up event. It sounds simple, but asking your staff members to talk about the home tour is an easy way to promote both the event and your store. Get your staff excited about the tour and ask them to tell customers in the store as well as their own friends and family.
8. Ask the homeowners if they’d like to purchase any of the merchandise at a discount after the event. With so much time put into decorating a home, it’s definitely worth asking the homeowners if they’re interested in purchasing any of the items after the event. Last year, the owners of JB Winterberry’s home purchased over half of what was displayed. By offering a discount on the large purchase, Barb and Julie didn’t have to pack everything up to bring back to the shop.
Times are tough for small businesses and your customers. Participating in local events is a great way to put yourself out in the community, and the community will in turn support you.