Journey with me, won’t you, into my email in-box? I subscribe to many small-business e-newsletters from all over the country, just to see what’s going on — and I’m intrigued by several of the initiatives I’m seeing this holiday season. What follows is just a sampling:
• One yarn shop has “Snowflake Surprise,” where once a week a snowflake ornament is hidden in the shop and the lucky winner receives 10% off his or her purchase. Even better, the shop sends its e-newsletter to customers with a photo of the smiling winner, along with a note about what he or she bought and an announcement of the next “hiding day” for the ornament. A needlepoint shop is having similar fun by hiding a little gnome for customers to find and win a prize.
• I thought it was a smart move for a needlepoint shop to offer a “Finishing 101″ course during this holiday season, so folks could turn completed projects into keepsake gifts. And even if the customer is like me and has barely anything finished, just learning (or “re-learning”) how to make an i-cord or tassel is useful for the gift-wrapping process we’re all rushing though these days.
• On Day Two of a wicked snowstorm that hit this week, a toy shop made sure its e-news readers were aware that “our lots are plowed and our sidewalks are shoveled!” In case you needed another reason to break free from house confinement, they offered a one-day-only deal: “Any 2 items of your choosing for a 25% discount, plus $10 to use on whatever you want!”
• A yarn and gift shop is putting a new twist on the Sock of the Month Club: It is hosting a contest every quarter, judging the participants’ socks to vie for a small prize from the shop. They plan to feature the sock in the shop, along with the pattern the winner used. And out-of-towners don’t have to be excluded — they can simply email a photo of their masterpiece for judging consideration.
• A bead shop has a “Giving Tree” covered with necklaces, bracelets and more — all priced for quick sale and easy stocking stuffers. They switch up the selection daily, so the regulars have something to check out often. For every item sold off the tree, the shop makes a donation to the American Cancer Society.
• A scrapbook shop recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with cake for its customers (and presumably soon-to-be customers, too). To keep with the holiday spirit, it also hosted a female soloist who sang Christmas carols while people shopped.
• An embroidery designer/retailer’s holiday program, “Stitch It Forward,” includes a $5 gift certificate with every purchase. The certificate is meant to be passed along to a newbie stitcher to introduce him or her to the stitching world, although the purchaser also benefits with a special coupon code for the next purchase.
Whether these cool ideas are turning into cold hard cash for these businesses remains to be seen (and if you recognize your business in one of the above, I’d love to hear about how it’s going!). Regardless, I applaud each of them for thinking outside the box for holiday sales.
I’m also always on the lookout for more: Please feel free to give me feedback on an unusual program that worked — or didn’t — by commenting below or emailing me at email@example.com.