Case Study – How One Successful Small Business Only Needs to Have a Storefront Two Months a Year

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

In the city where I live, every year, for just seven weekends from early October to mid November, a local couple hosts a major shopping event called The Third World Bazaar.

They reside on a few acres of farm land where they turn one of their large barns into a holiday retail space. The owners spend 5 months of the year travelling the globe buying products for the sale from artisans in countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Cuba and Vietnam. Everything from jewelry to furniture to textiles to home accessories to toys to Christmas ornaments to other unique finds. In the 10 years it has been operating, the bazaar has become incredibly popular and proves you don’t need to have a storefront year round, if fact, it might work better if you don’t.

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Why Does This Business Work?

  • The owners capitalize on the key holiday buying time of the year, October and November.
  • Buyers know that the bazaar is only open during these seven weekends (Friday to Sunday), so they make the effort to get there, and they BUY, because they know that they are not coming back again for another year.
  • As they own the property and the barn, there is no rent being paid on a retail space.
  • The bazaar barely has to advertise because of strong word of mouth and customer loyalty. People know when it is coming because it is always the same time every year.
  • They have food trucks on the site, and also sell pumpkins and apple cider, making this an all-day fall event.

As I’ve said before, when something is only being offered for a limited time, it forces people to act. If buyers know a store will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, there is no urgency.

Ways to Have a Storefront for a Limited Time

Depending on what you sell, there are certain times of the year when it may benefit your online store to have a physical store presence. If you sell swimwear, maybe that is May/June. If you sell skis, that would be December. If you selling wedding goods, January is usually prime time. Or maybe you also want to take advantage of the holiday buying season. So what options do you have?

  • Approach a popular local store about the idea of them hosting a pop-up store of your products for just a few Saturdays during your prime selling season.
  • Consider taking out a shopping kiosk in a mall. Malls are hurting right now, so they may be open to the possibility of just a two month rental.
  • See if there is any retail space in your area that has been sitting empty for a long time. Approach the leasing agent about renting the space for just a one month period.
  • Ask your local church or community center if they would be willing to let you use their facilities in exchange for a donation.
  • A lot of hotels and resorts will host local vendors on their premises at certain times of the year.
  • Some business parks will also allow vendors to set up temporary one-day events on their premises, if it is something that will benefit their employees.
  • If you can’t afford some of these options, form an alliance with other local, but non competitive vendors, about going in together.

The goal is to maximize your key selling season with both a physical and online presence that will help carry you throughout the year.

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© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.


Author: Gail Oliver, Online Small Business Consultant

I'm Gail Oliver, an online marketing consultant. Welcome to my blog, chosen one of the Top 10 Small Business Blogs to Follow in 2014 by American Express Open Forum. If you need help with your e-commerce business, be sure to see MY SERVICES, above.