I spent my lunch hour in a shop in our downtown the other day because, well, I was invited. The owner, a friend & fellow blogger – Kati Mora sent out a Facebook invite for a Friday lunch tasting. I’ve been meaning to stop into her shop and this invite was the nudge I needed to do so, plus it included food. I accepted the invite, which added it to my calendar and confirmed my attendance. (Marketing note to small businesses… if you invite me/customer I’m likely to come.)
I arrived at The Plate Boutique to find Kati’s husband donning an apron behind the counter. He’s an even more familiar face, thus prompting me to stay longer than intended. As we chatted between customers I shopped and snapped photos of interesting, unique items throughout the store. Interesting and unique is truly what separates small shops like The Plate Boutique apart from the big box retailers down the road. On every shelf, down every aisle in Kati’s shop is something I cannot find anywhere else in town. And that’s precisely why I shop stores like The Plate Boutique. (Marketing note to small businesses… you are NOT in competition with big box stores, You offer unique, they sell everyday.)
I spent my lunch hour looking over the vast assortment of gadgets, accessories and cooking items that will make my life easier in the kitchen. Included below is a collection of the items that caught my eye. I think you’ll agree each qualifies as unique and interesting, and things you will not find at the big box stores.
I did come away with a couple things I just couldn’t do without. One for my hubby and one that would make my life easier when it comes to getting my wine glasses spot-free (no easy task with the water in our town)
At the register I filled out a frequent shopper card. A standard for most stores these days, serving as an incentive for shoppers and a way for retailers to gather customer information. Rather than a lengthy form and another plastic card for me to carry around and have to dig out of my purse, Kati opted to keep it simple. I filled out a printed index card with my contact info, they filled in amount of purchases, after sixth purchase I receive reward. They keep card on file and purchases added upon visits to store. Easy for me, the customer and the shop owner. (Marketing note to small businesses… create a simple incentive program to keep customers coming back, and collects contact information.)
In addition to the unique and interesting assortment of products throughout the store, one of the coolest things offered is right as you enter, and it’s a shining example of what small shops can do that the big boxes can’t. Kati hosts a cookbook swap, encouraging customers to take a cookbook from the collection and leave one of theirs in exchange. A very cool idea, and a great way to drive repeat customer traffic. It reminds me of the local library – when you’re done with book return it and come get another. (Marketing note to small businesses… what can you offer exclusively to your customers to keep them coming back).
Small retailers like The Plate Boutique are the backbone of communities today and the true spirit of our country. As a small business owner myself, I have a heart for small shops and tremendous respect for those with the courage, confidence and passion for opening their own retail store. Applause to Kati Mora, the others small shops in our downtown and the many scattered throughout other communities. I plan to stop in, say hi, check out your unique collection of merchandise … and I promise to share what I find here on my blog. Stay tuned for future ventures into small shops throughout my community and beyond.