Articles for Retailers - by Tom Shay

Creating an Open House


If you are thinking about having a holiday open house for your business, I have good news for you.

First, it is not too late to begin planning the event and second, it is not too early to begin planning.

I have spoken with many retailers who have conducted successful Open House events and here are a few tips and thoughts.  You will see why many retailers continue to have an open house year after year.

Unless you plan to have an open house for just your best customers most retailers use local advertising outlets as well as their social media tools to promote  and market the event.

Many retailers offer extended hours and if your store is situated in an area with other local retailers, it’s not unusual for all of them to work together on an Open House Day or Open House Evening

I know one retailer that employs a group of Dickens Carolers who go from shop to shop singing for the customers.  Another offers gourmet coffee and holiday cookies while another goes all out with an event catered by a local restaurant whose owner is a store customer.  If you serve food make sure it’s not sticky or hard to hold/eat.  You don’t want your customers hands to be messy so they can’t handle your products.

Door prizes are a hit with customers and a great way of getting names and addresses for the mailing list. Some merchants give gift certificates for door prizes as a way of getting the customer to return to their business a second time.

Others called on the sales representatives that visit their store to provide them with the items which were given to customers.

Special Open House discounts are always a big hit and this event can also be a great way to introduce new products.

Several retailers also mentioned the need for additional sales help at the event to serve the refreshments and assist your customers.  After all, you are inviting people to visit your business and these customers need to see your business at its' best.

There is not a “one formula fits all” format to an Open House but here are a few questions for your consideration.Is this open house a reward to current customers or a means of attracting new customers?

  • Is there anything else occurring in your community or neighborhood at the time you’re thinking of scheduling your open house?  If so you may want to either tie into the event or reschedule your event.
  • In selecting foods, what is being offered that is not messy.  Customers who are offered too much to eat, or whose fingers are sticky are not likely to take a closer look at your merchandise.
  • As you hold the open house, does your store look different - both inside and out - so that customers know something is going on?
  • Do you want customers to purchase during the event or just get ideas for future visits to our store? If you want them to buy, you will need to have special prices.

The holiday season is right around the corner so if you want to do an open house get your planning started now.

Tom Shay is a fourth-generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here -