Cost-conscious shoppers will love one-stop gift source
Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, November 1, 2009
Since September, radio commentators have been lamenting that panic-stricken retailers put up Christmas displays before Halloween in an effort to ensure holiday sales won't be a total disaster.
Retailers may have reason to be concerned because every conversation I hear indicates most families are planning significantly reduced spending this year in line with the now well-established trend that lauds saving rather than lavish spending.
But savvy barbecue and hearth retailers will recognize this as the ideal time to promote their stores for one-stop holiday shopping with gifts sure to please everyone on their gift list.
First, remind shoppers that virtually every household in the country barbecues so you can't go wrong by choosing something to enhance their outdoor cooking. Second, you are positioned to accommodate any budget with a wide selection of products that range from cookbooks, utensils, deck protectors with a favorite team logo at modest prices to a portable grill for tailgating with a higher but still-affordable price tag or a spectacular stainless steel grill that's literally an outdoor kitchen at a cost as glitzy as the appliance.
People are looking for clever, innovative gifts that will make them look especially thoughtful to the recipient without breaking the bank. Display a collection of flavored woods with a smoke cooking book that will be unique but will delight any outdoor cook. Package several sauces and seasonings in a wok with the option of adding a few utensils or an Asian or grilled vegetable cookbook if they want to upgrade.
For the armchair barbecue chef who wants to watch the game on TV while dinner cooks, something as simple and inexpensive as a remote thermometer that lets them monitor their meat temperature without ever leaving the screen will be a cherished gift.
Enthusiastic tailgaters are candidates for any product with their favorite team logo. You can offer everything from a grill to a grill cover, beverage coolers, mugs or almost anything else you can think of with a variety of college or professional team logos.
There are many things you can do to enhance the holiday atmosphere in your store. Here are a few ideas:
On weekends demonstrate cooking holiday appetizers to attract shoppers and show them how to make their holiday entertaining easy and delicious. Use a variety of accessories, seasonings, etc., and display them prominently near the demo area.
Schedule classes that teach how to cook holiday favorites such as ham, turkey, pies, sweet potatoes and other side dishes on a variety of grills. Charge people to participate but offer them a discount on all products bought on the day or evening of the class.
To encourage repeat visits, stage a weekly sweepstakes to win prizes such as accessories, cookbooks or even a free cooking class. Tie in with a local butcher shop or supermarket to have them contribute a ham, turkey or beef filets as a prize. Another thoughtful prize would be to offer to wrap 25 gifts for the winner.
With the purchase of an expensive grill, enter the purchaser in a sweepstakes to win a holiday meal that will be cooked in their home by a local chef or even an accomplished barbecuer on your staff. It will be cooked on a grill, of course, and you can use the event to garner local press.
Serve warm spiced cider to shoppers and play Christmas music. This encourages browsing, generates a warm feeling about your store and staff and will no doubt result in some impulse buying. Give customers the recipe for the cider spice mixture or hand out small samples of the spice mixture to take home.
Set up men's only and women's only shopping nights when they can choose gifts for the significant others in their lives. Offer free gift wrapping or a discount on purchases or a bonus gift such as a popular rub or marinade or sauce with a specified expenditure.
Assemble a display with signage for Great Stocking Gifts and include a wide assortment of gifts under $15 or $20. Think about such things as sauces, brining kits, rubs, an injector, thermometers, long mitts, kebob skewers, paperback cookbooks, flavored wood pellets, basting brushes or mops, and anything else you know would be appealing. Decorate the area with stockings and make the display colorful and attractive.
Offer gift certificates for shoppers who can't decide what to buy.
The most valuable thing you can offer your customers is inspiration and ideas because that is what most of us run short of if our gift list is extensive or includes difficult to buy for people.
Demonstrate that you can help even those with limited budgets and you'll gain long-term, appreciative customers for year-round purchases. The economy doesn't need to slow down your holiday sales, and everyone will have fun.
Bows, stockings and ornaments remind people of products that make great gifts like Twin Eagles' Salaman Grill.