Drawing a Crowd to Your Retail Booth

Originally, our Tastes of Idaho business started out as a holiday retail booth.  Back in 2002, we rented a spot in our local mall and ran our booth for 12 grueling hours a day for 45 days from mid-November until the end of the year.

Despite the work and the long hours, it was probably one of the most fun and successful activities we participated in. This experience eventually prompted us to launch our website and our own gourmet business!

So what did we do to make the holiday booth so successful?

  1. We bought some easy-to-assemble wooden shelving which was very eye-catching and useful for displaying large amounts of gourmet and gift items in a small space (even 15 years later, people were trying to buy our shelving units.  Unfortunately, the company that made them closed their business).
  2. We greeted EVERYONE who walks by our booth, engaged as many buyers and ‘lookers’ as we could and were helpful and friendly to anyone who had questions.
  3. We stood most of the time we were in the booth (with a few breaks), so we were always eye level with our customers and thus, more approachable!

But the greatest draw to our booth, which translated into sales, was …..DEMOING SAMPLES!!

People loved to try our gourmet food products.  We cut up small bits of chocolates, sampled BBQ sauce with Corn Chips, gave out flavored popcorn ….. anything that could be sampled as ‘finger food’.

Now, I realize that not everyone makes gourmet foods, so this will not work.  But while we were giving out food samples, the glassmaker down the hall was demoing his craft (or making more product to sell) right in his booth!  The crowd from our booth eventually crowded around his booth to watch him ‘blow’ and form his glass creations. Between the two of us, we created quite an array of lookers who turned into buyers.

Take a long hard look at your product.  Can you make some or part of it in your booth.  Can you demonstrate the way to use or apply the product with your customers?  The more hands-on you can get with your customers, the more interest you will stir up, and the more sales you will make.

PS.  We also used some of the same tactics at our wholesale shows as well!  Especially sampling chocolate!!

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  1. Do you create the curtains? If so, pick a couple color fabrics and sew them right in your booth.

    If you don’t, you could try giving away something that attendees would like: bottles of water, small snacks, etc.

    You could also do a special drawing — Have an assortment of fabric swatches where folks pick their favorite fabric and write it and their contact info (especially email) on a short form. Winner gets something for free or discounted from your offerings.

    Just a few ideas off the top of my head!

    Good luck,
    Sandy