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Whistle Shop

Turn your store into a destination by making shopping an event.

How do you turn a small town of 2,500 people into a shopping destination? Diana Schmidt, owner of clothing boutique Kaylane's Kloset, teamed up with local retailers Karen Cather and Amy Wells to create the Diva Day Away program. Customers pay $20, meet at a lavishly decorated house, enjoy a four-course brunch or lunch, and receive goody bags with gifts and coupons from participating retailers in Anthony, Kansas.

Then, says Schmidt, 45, "We send them downtown, shopping like divas. They get a small gift or special treatment at nine different shops."

Debbie Allen, a retail consultant and author of Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters, urges other retailers to take cues from the Diva Day Away team to create more entertaining shopping experiences by:

  • Holding relevant seminars or classes on-site. They get potential customers in the door and may become a new revenue stream.
  • Thinking indulgence. Most customers love to feel pampered, even if you're just giving a small token. For instance, one of the Diva Day Away retailers hands out a chocolate truffle to each participant.
  • Finding the right partner. "When I owned a fashion boutique, I would bring fashion shows to local high-end salons," says Allen. "It was a low-cost way to showcase my products to the right audience."

Gwen Moran is a writer and consultant specializing in marketing.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the March 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Whistle Shop.

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