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6:19 AM   April 28, 2015
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Inexpensive Ways to Increase Foot Traffic

© Razvanjp |

Times are tough. According to the U.S. Commerce Department in January, retail sales were down 2.7 percent in December, marking a record six months in a row of declines since the agency began keeping score in 1992. Despite the slow in spending, pet boutiques can bring in foot traffic in inexpensive--if not free--ways.

Try these strategies for drawing customers in and getting them spend a little for their favorite pets.

  • Host an artist meet-and-greet: Celebrate a local painter or craftsperson who specializes in pet-themed art. Retailers can talk to the artisans whose work they feature in the boutique, and invite them to meet and greet customers over a dog-friendly evening of wine and cheese. They can invite clients with classy (yet inexpensive) fliers or send an e-mail blast to their database of customers. And when they arrive, offer them a 15-percent-off coupon good for anything in the store.
  • Plan a fashion show: With spring just around the corner, retailers can begin coordinating with dog clothing designers to host a trunk show or spring fashion show in their shops. They can recruit customers’ pets to model the haute couture and publicize it in local newspapers with press releases leading up to the event. 
  • Offer free dog washes: It’s a dirty--and wet--job, but if retailers have access to water, warm weather and lots of space, they can offer dog-washes for free one afternoon, using shampoos sold in their stores. The event will most certainly draw a crowd--and foot traffic into the boutique. 
  • Cross promote with other retailers: Retailers in strip malls or on Main Street can partner with other businesses to cross-promote merchandise and offer coupons. For instance, a boutique owner could put a fancy dog collar in a jeweler’s display case or a dog mannequin dressed in a Valentine’s Day outfit in the front window of a dress shop. It’ll create a buzz and camaraderie among area retailers.
  • Join the club: Retailers can also work with area agility clubs or breed clubs, and offer members a discount on the purchase of food or accessories. They may also want to rent booths at trials or bench shows to display select merchandise to show-goers. The more visibility around dog owners, the better it is for business.

Though it may be rough-going right now, pet boutique owners who weather the economic storm will come out stronger in the long run. It will just take some patience and a lot of creative publicity tactics. <HOME>

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