If it’s not back-to-school and dance season, a necessary pointe shoe fitting or the holidays, retailers have to get crafty to keep customers coming back for more. To get business moving along regardless of season and drive store traffic and sales during these “off” times, some retailers stage in-store events—everything from Ladies’ Nights, complete with wine, cheese and discounts, to workshops focused on a particular shoe or apparel brand and painting or pointe shoe decorating parties. Here, four retailers share how they’ve used in-store events, whether a regular series, a one-off (charity or manufacturer promotion) or a different theme each month, to help give business a boost, pull in new customers—and even motivate their employees along the way.
Every fall and spring, customers can’t wait for Mondays at Boulder Body Wear in Lafayette, CO. That’s when the retailer has one of its biggest sales of the year. For a month or so, on each Monday—typically the slowest sales day of the week—Boulder Body Wear gives customers 20 percent off all in-store fashion. “We’ve been doing Monday Madness so long that people know to look for it,” says Amy Kenney, the store’s owner. Mondays pack some profitable power, according to Kenney, who adds that these seasonal events not only increase traffic into the store, but also make people more aware of what it carries. “Monday Madness makes a great talking point for customers and not only brings people in but gets them to return—on any day,” says Kenney. “It also gets our staff excited, and they enjoy having something to spark sales.”
The retailer also holds seasonal “Ladies Nights” when the store stays open later and offers deeper discounts, plus food, wine and live music or performance.
Girls’ Night Out
The second Friday of each month, Mary Ann’s Dance and More in Easthampton, MA, hosts a Girls’ Night Out. “It’s a great event for the dance community and beyond,” says owner Mary Ann Hanlon, who gives the event a different theme each month (holiday shopping was a recent one). “It’s an evening to just take time out and enjoy some wine and cheese and chat—especially after the start of school and the dance season.” Word of mouth has spread news of the monthly event, but the retailer still promotes the night with postcards to local studios, in-store flyers, inserts in bags, a Facebook event page and press releases to local media. “All the publicity helps to bring in new faces, because even though we’ve been in business in the same town for 10 years, there are always people who don’t know we’re here,” says Hanlon. “New people come in and spread the word that we are here and that we host these events. Free publicity through word of mouth is the best kind of advertisement.”
At Movin’ Easy Dancewear in Austin, TX, Bloch Day Summer 2017 introduced new Bloch pointe shoes and other products like ballet flats, tap shoes and new jazz shoe designs. Bloch’s professional pointe fitter, Christine Boll, who has been fitting for nearly 25 years, visited the retailer to discuss how she fits Bloch pointe shoes and introduce the newest styles. She also fit a few of the staff members, as well as customers, throughout the day. “The staff learned more about the brand, helping us to perfect our fitting, and customers were excited to be included in such a special event and try the new shoes,” says Lauren Hawkins, marketing and social-media manager at Movin’ Easy Dancewear. The store promoted the event through Instagram posts, an event page on Facebook and the store’s monthly e-newsletter. It had an advance sign-up sheet for pointe shoe fitting, pushing the event’s free giveaway prizes with purchase. “Events like this increase sales in-store and create future repeat pointe shoe sales,” says Hawkins. “It is very exciting for our loyal customers and studio groups to participate in trying and testing out new products for us.”
Switching Things Up
The Dance Store in Murfreesboro, TN, hosts about seven in-store events each year. Each event is unique, appealing to different customers. Events are advertised via e-mail, the store’s website, Instagram and Facebook, depending on the audience. “We love being able to benefit our local dance community, but also to give back to our surrounding community throughout middle Tennessee,” says co-owner June Bilbo. Here’s a sampling of the store’s recent events.
Charity Fundraisers: “We host various [local] charities or organizations,” says Bilbo. “Last year, the store had a food drive to benefit a local backpack program that provides food for underprivileged children.” This year, it had a silent auction that celebrated National Dance Day, while also benefiting a local nonprofit childcare organization that provides appropriate learning environments for disabled children.
Adding Color: The store had a painting class with a local artist. Each participant painted a ballet-related picture, which they took home.
Pointe Shoe Decorating: The store invited students from area studios to use their imaginations and creativity to decorate a point shoe, which the store provided. “We highlighted the shoes in the store and allowed customers to vote on their favorite, either in-store or via social media,” says Bilbo. The designer of the winning shoe received a gift certificate.
Tina Benitez-Eves, a New York City–based writer, is a frequent contributor to Dance Retailer News.
Photo courtesy of Movin’ Easy Dancewear