Prepare your Coffee Shop for Small Business Saturday

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is fast approaching!   This is the kick-off weekend for what will result in a major portion of retailers' income for 2017.  Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express as a counterpart to big-box retailers' Black Friday and e-commerce's Cyber Monday to encourage the support of local brick-and-mortar businesses.   In 2016, 112 million customers supported their local businesses with $15.4 billion in spending,. An astonishing 72% of consumers indicated they were familiar with the day itself - pretty amazing for a shopping even less than a decade old!

Your coffee shop's location will already be getting increased foot traffic the entire weekend after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday is especially valuable because it promotes the benefit to local communities of shopping small and shopping local. Small Business Saturday is the perfect time to remind local shoppers that you run the best coffee shop in their area.  Plan events, product specials, and promotions centered around the local coffee lover to keep them coming back. 

Prepare ahead of time:

  • Meet with owners of small businesses near your own to see what they're doing to encourage sales and participation that day.  If advantageous, partner up with other local businesses to share marketing tactics and efforts.  For example: team up with a bakery or book shop near you and trade postcards that include a coupon or other offer to display in each other's storefront.
  • Spread the word ahead of time around town and on social media with free Small Business Saturday marketing materials from American Express.
  • Plan to have enough staff on hand to serve customers and conduct the festivities. Look into hiring temporary help for the big day if needed.
  • Plan your social media posts ahead of time with at least one post per day leading up to the event reminding followers of your specials and to shop small.  Use small business hashtags to appear in the #ShopSmall or #smallBusinessSaturday twitter feeds.  Encourage your customers to do the same the day of the event.
  • If you have an email list, be sure to send them an email the early in the week of the event and again the morning of.  Email campaigns historically have better open rates on Mondays and Tuesdays than on Fridays.
  • Decorate your shop for the Holidays.  Put up a Christmas tree if you have the space.  If not, decorate with a garland, lights and coffee and/or tea-themed ornaments.
  • Identify which products or consumables you sell have the highest margins and decide which of these to offer at a discount on Small Business Saturday.  You want to be sure that your promotions help your bottom line, not hurt it!

On the big day:
  • Put a sidewalk sign out in front of your shop with balloons encouraging strolling shoppers to drop in for a break from shopping and recharge with a comforting cup o' joe.
  • Post a schedule of events outside your shop as well as in a prominent place inside.  Stagger events to give visitors an incentive to return.  As a coffee shop, you have the potential to energize shoppers in the morning and help them recuperate after a long day of shopping.
  • Tell the story of your business.  One of the main draws of Small Business Saturday is to support local communities by shopping at locally-owned businesses.  If you are a family-owned and operated business, be sure your customers know that.  Include it at the top of your menu, on any welcome signage, and consider adding a poster or chalkboard dedicated to the story of how your business began.
  • Offer free samples of your latest house brew or pastry just inside the door to encourage shoppers to come in and try more.
  • Be sure to make the customer experience personal - greet customers as they arrive and thank them for coming upon their departure.  Have festive music playing in the background and decorate your store for the holidays! 
  • This is the perfect time to offer specials on your inventory to kick-start the holiday sales for your store.  Offer a percentage off or a free gift in appreciation for their support.  Be sure to stock up on plenty of inventory so you don't sell out and miss potential sales!

Promotional Event Ideas:
  • Discounted coffee all day (or during certain hours)
  • Hold a morning "coffee party" to help shoppers prepare for their day ahead.
  • Offer discounts on beans and coffee brewing equipment.
  • hold a raffle for prizes (i.e. coffee beans, a brewing kit, kettle, etc.)
  • Hide carnival tickets with unique codes around your store.  Instead of leaving actual gift cards or coupons around the store, insert a level of mystery by having the seekers come to the front counter or a server to redeem their prize.  Have multiple levels of prizes to add to the intrigue of the game.
  • Take submissions for favorite holiday coffee/beverage recipes.  If possible, test these recipes in-house and announce a winner at a certain time.  The winning recipe could be served in your shop during the following week (encourage your captive audience to come back!)
  • Remind your customers of the importance of giving this Holiday season and how your small business is doing its part.  Make it easy for customers to contribute by offer to round up to the nearest dollar on every sale to benefit the charity of your choice.
  • Hold an evening "recharge party" to help tired shoppers rest after a long day of shopping.
Small Business Saturday is one of the biggest marketing opportunities of the year for brick-and-mortar stores.  Coffee shops can benefit from this event just as much as retail stores.  Plan ahead, get the word out, and give shoppers a reason to fall in love with your business.  Reward your customers for shopping small this Holiday season and they are sure to return!