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Summer is Here!

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | June 20, 2017
For many of us Summer time brings a sense of a time to relax, kids at home, endless tubes of sunscreen, road trips, crunchy hair from too much pool time, popsicles, baseball and watermelon, fireworks. The list can go on and on. For Emporians, we are lucky to add special memories and experiences like Live in the Lot, the Sertoma Train at Soden’s Grove, trips to the David Traylor Zoo, Brown Bag Concerts at the Library, and an endless list that makes Emporia such a cool place.
As we find ourselves in the middle of summer (can you believe it?) there is still time to capitalize on the season and take some action to positively effect your business.
1.  Focus on summer travelers. Emporia is a destination. Every year, we see more and more folks coming into our community for their vacation. As a business, you have the opportunity to turn these visits into sales. Remember that uniqueness sells, and you need to get onto the visitor’s “itinerary”. Find out what group you want to target. Is it families coming for a youth sporting event? Is it individuals coming to play one (or several) of our nationally known disc golf  courses? Is it a group of cyclists coming to tackle our internationally known gravel courses?  Social Media offers a variety of platforms and budgets to market to these different interests groups. Look for keywords and specific locations when setting up your campaign.
2. Focus on Staycationers.  Staycations are very popular for folks who just want to rest and relax in their own homes. These “vacations” offer a time for individuals to work on projects they have been putting off or a time for them to try something new. Summer projects can be anything from planting a new garden to painting grandma’s old china cabinet. Finding ways to educate consumers on how to be successful with their projects is a great way to build customer loyalty and your brand. Think about offering a class on how to re-purpose a piece of furniture or be a successful gardener. Staycations are also a great time for art or yoga classes!
2.  Kids are home, welcome them in.  School’s out for Summer! This can mean a variety of situations based on family dynamics and professions. Some kiddos get to hang with their parents during these months. Offering “kids” specials that encourage parents or care providers into your place of business is a good way to increase traffic. Think about specials that still encourage a purchase(s). It doesn’t necessarily need to be a “kids eat free” type of promo, but maybe a deeper discount than normal. During lunch get (insert percentage here) off a child’s meal when an adult meal is purchased, or buy a regular priced drink and receive (insert discount here) on a second beverage.
3.  Fun in the sun merchandise.   Does your business offer items that lend themselves to warmer weather? Do you stock sunscreen, flip flops, bottled water, snacks, or recreational equipment?  Now is the time to push these items! It is essential to remind shoppers that these items can be purchased locally, and not just at big box retailers. If someone is needing just a few of these items, a trip to your store can be quick and convenient. Remind shoppers that your friendly staff can help them get in and out quickly so they can spend more time having fun!
4.  Take part in community events.  There is ALWAYS something to do in Emporia. Last weekend our family was on the go. From Live in the Lot to tractor shows to train rides we were busy! There are lots of different community activities happening this summer your business can participate in. Thursday, July 20th is Emporia Main Street’s summer version of Midnight Madness. This member exclusive event offers you an opportunity to move merchandise out of inventory and have some fun while doing it! The Great American Market is coming up on September 9th and we encourage you to reserve your spot now. We already have a number of reservations, and if you are interested in reserving the spot in front of your store-let us know asap.
5.  Honey Do’s  Summertime can offer some time to take a look at that Honey Do list. Is there a project that you have been putting off at the store? Do fixtures need changed? Is a fresh coat of paint needed? Does the landscaping need spruced up? Now is a great time to knock out some of those tasks. If you are a DIY person–good for you. But if you need some help in these areas, call the Main Street office–no Casey and I will not be grabbing our paint brushes, but we have a long list of members who specialize in a variety of these services.
6.  Take a moment for yourself.  Did you see the opening paragraph? There was something about relaxing and road trips in there…these shouldn’t be foreign words to you. And it might be odd for an organization that supports local to tell you to get out of Dodge for a few days, but we all need to hit the reset button. Sometimes taking a trip to other unique communities gives you a chance to do some research and take away ideas that could be implemented into your business. Doers are go go go, and can often face the risk of burnout. Make sure to take care of yourself. Both your business and your staff will be impacted more successfuly if your mental health is in good shape. Make sure to make appropriate arrangements for when you will be out. This will ensure smooth operations and reduce your stress while you are gone.
Summer is a great time to embark on improvement projects, reach out to a new customer base, and have a little fun. From marketing to merchandising to helping find the right repair shop, Emporia Main Street is here to support you. We also have a list of great Main Street communities that would be the perfect summer get away!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.