Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place.
I wrote last month about the value of treating every day like Christmas to create a great environment for shoppers, but there's no denying summer has a firm grip on central Iowa. That means there are still some tried-and-true opportunities that small retailers should remember when working to boost sales.
Rieva Lesonsky, a staff writer for Small Business Trends, offered a reminder of some of those ideas a few months in her piece, "5 Ways to Boost Your Retail Sales This Summer" and they're certainly worth doing before Labor Day rolls around. To see those ideas in action close to home, all you need to do is spend some time in historic Valley Junction.
Lesonsky recommends moving things outdoors. Whether your business is located on a city street or a mall, "foot traffic is likely to increase as more people take advantage of the nice weather to stroll outside."
You'll get no argument from me there. All I'd add is: Make sure you have plenty of products to sample.
Thursday evenings in Valley Junction are a perfect example of small retailers who shake things up by moving outdoors. That strategy plays right into a few of Lesonsky's tips about sponsoring or participating in local events, making summer sales a group effort and creating excitement by throwing a party.
Valley Junction merchants do all three of those things by joining forces and sponsoring a weekly farmers market and music. The result: a wonderful atmosphere for shoppers, strollers and fun-seekers of all ages.
You don't have to be in a perfect retail setting like Valley Junction. (Although it sure helps!) Odds are, however, that you have retail neighbors that you can team up with. If you don't, all you need is a little creativity to pull together some complementary businesses, pick a spot and throw your own celebration.
Finally, while this summer may be winding down, it's never too early to start planning for next year. One item to put on your list is a strategy to capture more tourist dollars. And a great, big bull's-eye in that respect is the 2015 Iowa State Fair.
All that's left to do to improve summer sales this year and into the future is to put these ideas into motion. What are you waiting for?