Humping Over the Summer Slump
Okay, so I know my blog is all about sex toys and this one is too. In fact, it’s especially for those brick-and-mortar types – which was my passion for 12 years of my life during my time at my award-winning store, Grand Opening! Twelve years of sticking the key in the door, hoping that customers will walk in and spend their hard-earned cash buying pleasure devices within the walls of my establishment. There were up and down days, weeks, and months including my favorite time of year: the summer. Everyone loves the summer – it’s time to get outside, enjoy barbeques, visit the oceans and the beaches, go on road trips, camping, flying to far-away destinations and basically be outside to enjoy the weather.
Perhaps you are like me… wondering what to do to get those buyers into your (hopefully) air conditioned store. The summer means most customers probably won’t go to your store so what can you do to avoid the traditional summer sales slump?
Oftentimes, the mere fact of where your store is located can impact your sales depending on if you rely on tourists or those plentiful college students. Or does it? Does advertising make a difference in the hotter months? Do you want your store to coast along on its post-Valentine’s and springtime sales? Or do you just assume that the summer will ALWAYS be slow? Here are stores that have this figured out and are able to anticipate and prepare for the lack of customers walking through the door in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
Guess what? Tourists Like Spending Money!
Let’s look at the devil-may-care attitude of tourists. If your store is located in a tourist destination, why not target those potential customers with advertising and specials? Sure, they might not become future in-store customers but after they visit, they may turn into your website’s newest consumers.
In many tourist areas, brochure racks are prevalent in every hotel in town. These are often run by companies whose customers design their own brochures and the company then places the brochure in the display. With a tastefully and well-designed brochure that has a “first time customer” coupon on it, out of town customers may make your store a destination stop where they’ll spend money like drunken sailors.
Hey, here’s a good one that won’t cost you much moola. Even if your store is not in a tourist location, why not have a special event for local hotel concierges? These important hospitality staffers are usually in charge of sending their guests to places off the beaten path to find a particular item, find a nice place to shop or enjoy a nice meal. Having an in-store event for local concierges (complete with a few giveaways) will allow the concierge to experience your store first-hand and recommend your business to spice up that vacation getaway or all-important honeymoon.
My pal, David Goldman, owns Skitzo Kitty in Palm Desert, California (in the Palm Springs area). David, a master at marketing, keeps customers coming back to his 1,300-square-foot store by continuously promoting the store throughout the summer. One would think the desert would be the last place that would draw tourists in the summer but David insists otherwise. “We used to have had peaks and valleys, now the valleys are a lot shallower and there are reasons for that. Stores go through a summer slump because they don’t expect it and they do nothing about it. We built our store on promotion and we continue to promote in the summer.”
Portland, Maine based Nomia Sexuality Boutique places its store information on free tourist maps, which draws strolling customers through its doors. Gina, Nomia’s founder and owner, shares a free resource for drawing in customers in the summer as well as year-round. In a word: Yelp. “When we ask visitors from out of town how they found out about us, they always say ‘Yelp’” Gina stated. “Between our positive reviews on Yelp and the tourist map, we don’t feel any summer sales slump at all even though Nomia is up on a second floor. Paying attention to customer service and your Yelp page is extremely important no matter what time of year it is.”
Sponsor Events in the Summer Months, especially Ladies Nights
Susan Craton, co-founder of Georgia’s Sexy Suz in Athens and the Entice store in Rome, found that holding Ladies Nights in each of their stores during the muggy months of July and August prove to drive sales throughout the summer and beyond. Susan shared, “We invite women who have never been in the store or that always have been too embarrassed to shop by themselves to come to Ladies Night with a group of friends. When they find out how pretty the store is and how knowledgeable the staff is, they always come back. We give them goodie bags, have door prizes, have refreshments and offer them a great time. It’s always a fun night whenever we hold Ladies Nights and in the summer, it really adds to the bottom line.”
Since Skitzo Kitty is located in the arid desert of the Palm Springs area, what better event is there to sponsor than a pool party? David Goldman continues “We sponsor a pool party at a major hotel and extend the Skitzo Kitty brand all over the place. Valerie Gordon, Skitzo Kitty’s fantastically energetic manager, organizes bikini-clad women wearing bathing suits and lingerie from the store. We give away lots of prizes and have a great time in the summer sun! It’s a win/win all the way around.” David makes it a point to sponsor an event every other month, yet another reason why his store barely feels a summer slump. “Events and branding are a year-round thing for us. We continue to grow no matter what time of year it is.” It’s all about promotions year-round, he insists.
Summer is the Perfect Time to Change Your Displays
Susan Craton from Sexy Suze and Entice, loves changing things up in her stores. “I never, ever like to keep the stores stagnant. I’m always moving stuff around and the summer is when I do the major moving around. Frequent customers come in and realize their favorite products are somewhere else. And guess what? By moving things around, they find things they have never seen before and we make yet another sale from something they probably would have otherwise missed.”
Jennifer Downey, of the eight-store chain Ambiance, located in Ohio, has even trademarked the term “Playcation” for those who like to stay at home and enhance their relationships. Ambiance’s Playcation theme is played up in their in-store displays which show the latest products that can be shared during the summer “we time.” Ambiance also makes it a point to change their displays during bachelorette season which takes place mostly during the spring and fall.
Crystal Lee, of Long Beach, California’s Phat Toys store, also changes her displays for the warmer summer months. “Most of our store is lingerie so in the summer, I tend to display thinner, more see through lingerie, cute chiffon pieces, and basically put less on the mannequins. People like to see that we also offer bathing suits so those definitely go into the windows, too.”
Nomia’s Gina, in Portland, Maine, takes it a step further. “We do displays featuring temperature play since it’s gonna get hot! We feature soy candles, our glass and steel toys, and we have fun with customer input and suggestions and tips, too.”
Hold Customer-Driven Contests on Facebook
Summer is a great time to launch store related contests to drive foot traffic into your store. Suze Craton frequently offers contests through their Facebook page but the readers must come into the store to actually enter. They announce the contest on Facebook which can be sexual health trivia, references to a sexy scene in a film, and many other questions that are easy to answer but the answers must be entered in their contest box in the store in order to win the prize.
“Holding contests like this is a free way to distribute extra inventory while bringing in new customers,” Susan claimed. “The customers like getting their names announced, too, although I always leave that up to them.”
Community Tie Ins – Ya Gotta Love Where You Are
How active is your store in community events? Paying back to the community leads to endless rewards to your bottom line.
David Goldman of Skitzo Kitty added “Too many people assume that they know something that they don’t know – that the community doesn’t welcome them but you don’t know until you go out there. We sponsor the community football team. We never say no to fundraisers. It keeps our brand front and center when people think of where they can purchase adult products and lingerie in a welcoming environment.”
Jennifer Downey of Ambiance has an extra-special tie in available to her. “We are located in Cleveland where the Rock ‘N Roll Museum is and we are promoting our stores to dovetail with their special retrospective on the Rolling Stones, which is appropriately called “Satisfaction.” We are going to have lots of visitors in town and are playing up many of the Stones songs including “Mother’s Little Helper” and others. The demographics for Stones fans who will be visiting the Museum are perfect for our store. It should be a great summer for us.”
Even if you’re not located near a special museum or in the center of town, think of sponsoring summer related events including a women’s softball team or adult pool time at the local pool. If there are bars in your area, they are also usually filled with thirsty drinkers at the end of a hot day and what better way to get the word out about your company but to hold events at those places as well? Get in touch with your adult products distributors to see if they have any swag you can give away to promote products at your store as many manufacturers have plenty available for free.
So now you know there’s no excuse to experience the dreaded summer sales slump. Get your store on track and give yourself time at the beach to soak up the sales you’ll be making while working on your summertime tan.
And for those of you in the online sales world, may as well spend the time developing your holiday landing page!
Okay, since you may be going to the movie theatre to watch one of those big summer blockbusters, here’s this installment of JOTB:
Once upon a time, there was a God who decided he wanted to come back to earth to experience the pleasure of sex with a woman. He came down one Saturday night and went to a popular singles bar. There he met a woman who took him to her apartment where they spent the night having non-stop sex.
In the morning, he decided to tell her who he was. He looked in her eyes and said “I’m Thor…”
She replied, “I’m thor, too, witth all that fucking we did!”
On that note… I’m off to the beach. Where’s my tanning butter?