Best Ideas for Christmas

From Bookmark Music, Music Innovations, Alfred Music Co., & Pender’s Music Company Marcia StearnsBookmark Music, Marcia Stearn, Owner Bookmark Music is located in a small town. Pacific Grove, California bills itself as “America’s Last Hometown”. Located on the Monterey Peninsula, it competes with Monterey and Carmel for business. So, community / neighborhood events abound thanks to our City and Chamber of Commerce. It’s easy to participate, and the city handles promotion, props and advertising. All we have to do is sign up and do a little extra personalized promotion. Leading up to the holidays, there’s something happening every other week. Holiday season begins the week before Halloween with “Trick or Treat in Downtown PG”, an afternoon of families strolling to all of the participating merchants for goodies. This is when the adults get a good look at your store while we fawn all over their kids. And it’s a party-like, no-pressure atmosphere all over town. Then there’s “First Friday Pacific Grove”, where participating merchants are open until 9 pm, offering music, refreshment and/or specials. First Friday happens year round but we get 2 during the holiday season. There’s an added twist here – it’s called a “cash mob”, where a group of people gather and randomly choose a merchant to descend upon. Each member of the mob is committed to spending a minimum of $10 each. So, everyone is prepared for a swarm of excitement. And it gives folks another reason to stroll on a Friday evening through a town that normally rolls up its sidewalks by 6 pm. Next up, downtown Pacific Grove’s “Holiday Open House”. On a Saturday, two weeks before the Thanksgiving craziness, participating merchants offer a festive town-wide environment during the day – live music, food and treats, and special offers. It’s a shopper’s head start and doesn’t compete with the shopping mall scene. It forces me to throw out my old policy of making our store “holiday ready” for Thanksgiving. We now have to be ready 2 weeks earlier. Does everyone take part in American Express’ “Small Business Saturday”? It’s always the day after Black Friday. You need to accept AMEX cards to sign up. They do free personalized online banner promotions and send free supplies to spruce up your store. We promote it by telling people they can avoid the insanity at the malls and that there’s plenty of parking. Bookmark Music also acts as a “Neighborhood Advocate”. Other merchants pick up their supplies from us – another group of potential music makers (or their parents) that wouldn’t normally come into our store. Am I tired yet? Nope! There’s a First Friday in December! This is the one where our music is holiday music. In the past we’ve had a 3 piece pop group on the sidewalk wearing Santa hats, a beginning string quartet of no child over 11 years old, a solo acoustic guitarist, a surf band – we’re a music store – there’s no end to student and amateur talent available to us. So, how we’re making it special this year is we’ll give something away. This season it’s ukulele starter kits. We promote a time and at the “witching hour” everyone present in the store gets a numbered ticket. Then we draw a number. Simple. No unsolicited mailing list info. We’ll get that when they make a purchase. After all, on Small Business Saturday, we’re giving a storewide discount – one day only so why not make a purchase? (By the way, we’re primarily a sheet music store. Our “extra” lines are music gifts and ukuleles.) For refreshments we set up a small table of light, easy snacks (cookies or wrapped candy) and mini bottled water. It’s not a giant party; it’s simple hospitality to enhance a shopping experience. Let me repeat that – it’s simple hospitality to enhance a shopping experience. Keep that in mind. I wish you a successful season! From Musical Innovations – Tracy Leenmantl bassoon For the Christmas season, place your print music strategically. Don’t put the most commonly sold books by your front door; put them in the back, so that people have to walk through your store (and see lots of other things you have for sale) to purchase them. Don’t worry, these are “destination items” – people will ask if they can’t find them. Or you could use Christmas-themed signage to direct your customers (good-looking signage is always a great addition to any store). Place impulse buys (pop or current favorites) near your register for last-minute add-ons. Place other music appropriately, e.g. Christmas guitar music in your guitar section. Place instrumental music and the instrument’s related accessories together, so that parents don’t have to go hunting for their child’s particular instrument (parents don’t always function in “score order” like we do!). Don’t overstock – it’s fine to say “We don’t have that, but we can order it, and we can get it by Christmas for you.” (Then make sure to keep your promise!) Above all, enjoy the season! Smile, laugh, decorate, put on special events, have fun! Make your store a Christmas season destination for your entire community. From Alfred Music, Christie Smith, Sales Rep.Christie Smith R2 My Best idea for Christmas is one where you can pull together and promote all your departments. Have a drawing for a Christmas Sing-a-long in a Basket!! Put together a basket of small instruments (uke, shakers, small drum, etc.), plus chord charts, Christmas books, sing-a-long sheets, hot chocolate, a box of cookies, popcorn and needle and thread for stringing, a colorful blanket! You can even include your PA department as well if you want by including a handheld recording device. Wrap all this up nicely and there ya have it! Your customers will can draw tickets for their purchases, one for smaller purchases and one for higher levels of purchase. Do the drawing just before Christmas just in time for the big day! You can advertise “Come into the store and make a purchase for a chance to win a Christmas Sing-a-long in a basket!” From Pender’s Music, Carol Wilbur, Branch ManagerCarol Wilbur Contact some of your favorite band/orchestra directors & see if they have any small ensembles who would like to perform a few holiday songs in your store during weekend store hours. Showcasing the students brings family members and friends in to see them perform, brings smiles to the customers already in your store, and puts everyone in the holiday spirit! A perfect selling environment! From Hal Leonard Corporation, Maribeth Barrons, Sales Rep.Maribeth Barrons An often overlooked area, but one that is so important, is a company’s need to give back to our community. Setting your company up to be the drop-off point for Coats for Kids, Food for Families, Used Instruments, or any other effort that needs a collection point, is not only a great way to help your community, but it gets people into your store… People who aren’t even your customers yet. People who are your customers, but can’t seem to find the time to get into your store. Above all, the people who walk through your door to donate are the type of people who want to give back to their community, just like you. Don’t forget that being a charitable donation centre will also get you free media attention, repeatedly on radio and TV. And although this is the time of year we that we are most aware of making contributions to those in need, stores can make themselves the place to collect goods at other times of the year as well. Here’s just one great step-by-step how to on becoming a donor centre.

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