Retail Rendezvous: The Six Steps to Hosting a Great Retail Event
It‘s important to keep excitement in your business not only for your customers, but for your staff as well! At Deja Vu we are always trying to think of what else can be done in the adult world outside of star signings and ladies nights. We have found that the key to a successful event is staff involvement. Make sure everyone has an important role so that they will be excited about making the party a success. For a successful event, make sure to cover the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Break your team up into groups to cover the senses so that no single person is stressed or overloaded.
Theme: There are many themes you can go with and build from there. I try to choose a theme that will be easy to tie in decorations and costumes without breaking the bank. Also keep in mind what you can do for crowd interaction to keep your guests around longer and really participate in the party. This year for our Grand Re-Opening event, we decided to go with a “carnival” theme. We thought it would be nice for adults to come in and have a little fun.
Decorations: Once you’ve selected your theme, you can begin to brainstorm ideas for decorations. I always recommend decorating at least five days before your party. This allows you the time needed to decorate well. We also notice that we have a better turnout from the pre-event buzz. Once you start placing your decorations, your customers will ask questions about your event and your staff is given a better opportunity to go over the details and get return guests.
For our carnival we decided on two base colors — yellow and red. We like to go “streamer crazy” for events, so naturally we had to make a nice circus tent in the middle of the sales floor alternating the colors. Down the long isle that bisects our store we hung strings of pennant flags. Both are very low in cost and make a huge impact. We also try to incorporate as much product as we can into our decorations. For directional signage like what would be found at a fair, we made pointed arrows with construction paper and attached it to assembled dance poles from Pipedream’s Fetish Fantasy series. We also did a nice popcorn balloon arch with yellow and white balloons. These are fun and easy. You can search Google or Pinterest for DIY balloon arches and watch how-to videos.
Attire: This is probably your team’s favorite part of the party. We all love to get out of the everyday uniform and into something fun. People have more fun in costumes — this is a fact — even if it’s a pajama party to shake things up. Hot Tip: A fun game that you can do for your guests at a pajama party would be a pillow fight. Hide 500 pillow packs of lube around your store and give a nice prize to the guest that can find the most in five minutes. It’s a cute, fun way to incorporate your theme with your product! We went with Dreamgirl International’s Ring Master costumes. They have a great size range that allows uniformity for all of your staff. To us it’s very important to make sure our staff stands out at events like this. When you have 100-plus guests at an event, they need to be able to identify the associates for any questions they may have.
Food and Drinks: If your location allows you to give away alcohol to your guests that are 21 and over, it’s always a nice touch. We all know our business can be intimidating so why not loosen everyone up a bit. If this isn’t a possibility, any refreshments such as water, soda, or juice will do. If you put yourself into a retail setting, I’m sure you can think back to a time where you were shopping and had to rush out because you were hungry or thirsty. You don’t have to go all out with food caterers to cover this area. Simple things like fruit and vegetable trays will do. The fat kid in me always makes sure to include a nice spread of desserts like mini cupcakes and cookies. It ‘s not a necessity but for us we like everything to tie back into our theme. So what would a carnival be without snow cones and funnel cakes right? We also did vanilla cupcakes wrapped in red and white striped paper with a jagged top to resemble popcorn buckets. Add a little caramel corn in the top and you are all set! We also set up a popcorn machine to make popcorn on-site to get that nice freshly popped popcorn smell throughout the store. Some of you are probably thinking that hot dogs are a carnival must. So did we. We will get to that.
Entertainment: At the least you want to make sure you have music playing at a reasonable level with a variety of genres to avoid your guests from getting ear fatigue. If you have the ability to bring in a DJ to MC your event, it is a nice way to remind guests of your current sales, give shout outs to your sponsors and give your party a nice vibe. In larger group settings where there is no music, you might find a lot of moments to be uncomfortably silent. DJ Rikki Rage from Deja Vu Showgirls was gracious enough to MC our event. We are very fortunate to have someone on board that brings such a high level of enthusiasm to anything and everything she does. Not only is she very easy on the eyes but she is great with engaging guests and pumping the crowd up.
Interaction: You have to have continuous crowd interaction in order to keep the party going. Try and come up with games and contests that tie into your theme. A good closing for events is raffling off prizes from sponsoring vendors. We really wanted to do something over-the-top for our Grand Re-Opening event so we had eight custom carnival games made. Some of them included “Skeet, Skeet, Skeet Ball” — our little twist on ski ball using Kegal Balls from Maja Toys. “Ring a Ding Dong” resembled the ring toss onto coke bottles, but instead we used the Pipedream Jumbo Penis Straws and cock rings from CalExotics’ Apollo line. We did “Flying Solo” with Zolo Cups stacked on top of each other. Guests had three Zolo Pocket Pool balls to throw at them and knock them over for prizes. I think the fan favorite at this event was probably “Bobbing for Assholesm” We used CalExotics Anus Pump Sleeves and placed them in a trough of water. Yes they float face up! We marked the inside with “C” for gift card and “B” for bullet. That was one of a few games where everyone is a winner. We also did four rounds of eating contests for Xgen’s Power Pole and Doc Johnson masturbators. For the females, the first participant to finish six hot dogs was the big winner. For the males, it was a good, old-fashioned cherry pie-eating contest!
It is never a bad idea to show appreciation to current customers and invite new ones in to see what you offer. At Deja Vu, we value our relationships with our guests and our vendors. We love to show off the lines we carry and show guests a good time while doing so.
David Skelton from Bodyzone Apparel said, “It is always an honor for a vendor to be asked to participate in a customer appreciation show produced by one of our customers. We at BodyZone participated in a show produced by Megan of the Deja Vu Love Boutique, and I have to say that it was one of the most well-organized and well-attended shows I have been involved in as a vendor. All of the attendees, including myself, had a great time playing the games. I even won some prizes. It was a good opportunity to discuss our products with her customers and give their feedback to the manufacturer. I look forward to the next show.”
Robyn Meyers from Coquette International said, “I had a great time at the carnival. The games were too funny — such creativity! I tried them all, but excelled at ‘Choke a Dick’ which involved throwing a collar on a dildo. I went home with a few fun prizes, a couple purchases and a new distaste for hot dogs.”
Lupe Martinez from CalExotics said, “The interaction with the staff and the customers was off the chain. We are always happy to support our customers. This event was well executed and Megan is a delight.”
With more than 10 years working with Deja Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Deja Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo.