Holly shows how to make in-store events a real success 

In-store events are a great way to boost store footfall and increase customer spend. But they benefit from good planning, smart marketing and buy-in from your store team. 

In the latest Health Stores UK Shop Talk discussion, Holly Thallon Steenson from Viridian and Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry, offered some great tips and advice on how to set up – and crucially, profit from – in-store events. 

First, there was some scene setting. Sheaf Street Health Store is spread across 1800 sq ft, contains a new vegan cafe and has two entrances – one from the Sheaf Street itself, the historical centre of the town, and one which faces on to a car park at the rear of the shop. 

A moveable feast

Although Sheaf Street has a good amount of space to work with, it’s added some real flexibility to how that space can be used by employing a simple, smart trick: “We’ve really gone into moveable furniture in a big way. It you can put it on wheels, we will. We’ve just got some new gondolas – they’re on wheels! It makes it so easy to move things out of the way to clear space for these events,” says Holly.  

Sheaf Street has staged a whole range of events over the years. One of these was a special foraging event, Holly explains: “We found a local forager who took a group of people out into the countryside and collected edible plants, took them back to the shop and cooked them then and there. We also had Dale Pinnock in to do a cookery demo, where we had around 60 people attending. But we’ve also done some smaller events like tea tasting, and we’ve done our own in-store food sampling.

Fashion forward 

“We’ve also done bigger events, for example the fashion show we did that attracted over 100 people into the store. That was a collaboration with another local store in the town called Daisy B’s, who supplied most of the clothes for the fashion show – but we also included some of our own organic and bamboo clothing products. The really great thing for us was that most of those 100 people who came along that evening had never been into our store, and lots of them said they would be returning.”

A man walked into a health store 

Sheaf Street has also staged a successful comedy night. “We worked with some local people who put on a comedy festival and we did something in the store because we thought we’ve got the perfect venue for it. We built a little stage for it, and we also ran a bar where we served our organic wine, beers and gins – that was the upsell on that evening.”

The store also gets involved in local festivals and fund-raising events in the town, where sampling directly outside the store has proved to be an effective way of luring shoppers over the threshold. Sheaf Street also took part in a local art event called Chalk It Up, where local artists create artworks on the pavements in the town. One of the Sheaf Street team contributed her own creation. And this year, Holly took part in the Viridian/Daventry triathlon for the first time, for which the store supplied event goodie bags. 

Kids kitchen takeover 

One of the most exciting recent events at Sheaf Street was one staged with Irish celebrity chef Oliver McCabe. Oliver has just published his Kids Kitchen Takeover book, and is now touring health stores across Britain and Ireland with cooking demos for kids. The events – and book – are aimed at encouraging kids to cook and eat healthily from a young age. The Sheaf Street event attracted 25 children and 20 adults and achieved a 10% increase in footfall (5 days previous versus the five days after) and an increase of average customer spend of +19% (using the same measure). 

Holly said the the store was very active on social media promoting the event. The event-related posts achieved 900 engagements, 22 likes and reactions, 36 comments and 42 shares. 

Delivering results 

Generally, in-store events score well in growing footfall – ranging from +10% to +33%. 

Hits and tips

So, what hints and tips does Holly have for other stores thinking about staging their own events? In summary, they are: 

  • Target your audience 
  • Apply a ticket fee – encourages commitment from attendees 
  • Get your team excited about the event 
  • Be smart with your marketing 
  • Consider giveaways or goodie bags
  • Support your event with PR
  • Don’t forget to promote your next event 
  • Hold your nerve – people book late! 

Above all, she says, have fun with your events.  

Shop Talk is a regular online discussion series staged by Health Stores UK and co-hosted by Joanne Hill (Amaranth) and Vicky Perks (Beanfreaks). The video of this discussion can be viewed on there Health Stores UK website.

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