Whether you’ve got an Oyster Festival on your doorstep, a village summer fete up the road or even a weekly market day, make sure you’re part of the attraction by getting the right stock in place and the right publicity. Make the most of your local events.
Whitstable’s annual Oyster Festival took place on the last weekend in July and we looked to maximise our in-store theatre during it to drum up trade from locals and tourists.
We prepared by doing tastings all over the shop so we could work out what works, and we got customers and staff interacting more as a result.
We sampled local suppliers’ cheese, olives and bread, and also Supervalu meat, which has caused an increase in sales of sausages and burgers.
It’s been so successful that we’re actually now looking to make sampling a permanent thing on weekend evenings and do live cooking with pasta sauces too.
In both our stores we’ve made building closer links with our community a priority this year.
So over in Blean, we’ve got involved with 12 fetes and fairs recently.
We’ve supplied food and drinks, often through our business customers, who are involved in organising the events and buy things from us sale or return.
That’s something we tried last year and we’ve seen record numbers of orders coming in this time round, and fewer returns.
Doing SoR orders is a great selling point because if customers buy from the supermarkets they can’t return unused stock, but we will collect the leftovers.
While you might think that would be a bit costly and time consuming, it actually isn’t and there is not usually a lot to collect. In fact, we sometimes get calls for more stock halfway through the event. One Saturday we sold £429 worth of goods and made £92 once costs were accounted for.
We do special orders and tailor them to peoples’ needs, working out better deals for some people, or ordering special products in on a non-returnable basis. Much of this is done by word of mouth.
We’ve sponsored community events such as the Kent County Cricket Club fireworks through our Blean store, so we recently started sponsoring Whitstable Football Club through Budgens.
We’ve signed a one year deal with them so we can see how we benefit from it and also what it allows us to do for the community.
We can build up a database of customers who use the club and can also use free tickets as prizes in in-store competitions. We want to work with the club to support local schools too.
On a more serious note, there has been an issue in Blean village with children being followed by some men hanging around in the area near the store recently, so we spoke to the schools and put messages on our Facebook page and in the local press telling locals that if children are approached or are worried about their safety, our shop is a safe place for them to come.
I’m more sensitive to this sort of thing now I’m a dad, and I know the kids and parents around here too.
We’ve told people that the staff will look after the kids and phone their parents and the police immediately, and we’ve made sure the staff are trained and ready for this.
It’s quite a scary situation, so we’ve tried to put a common-sense policy in place because safety is paramount. Everyone has appreciated what we’ve done.