Everybody loves a birthday, and our store will shortly be celebrating its 30th (I wish I could say the same for its owners…). With just about every supermarket brand you could think of opening up around us over the years there have been a few times when we did wonder if we’d make it, which is why, upon reaching this milestone, we have decided to throw a big party.

The bash will not only reward our loyal customers, but hopefully attract a few new ones at the same time.

We are planning a week of special deep-cut promotions on well-known household brands, backed up by a daily raffle for a high-value prize, and lots of tasting and sampling sessions throughout the week, so that the store should be a real hub of activity. We have had great support from our wholesaler Booker, and many other major suppliers. And, of course, as it’s a party, we’ll be treating one and all to some fizz and a slice of cake on the day itself.

A lot of retailers we meet ask ‘Is all that work worth it?’, to which we can only reply, ‘Well, it works for us.’ Shop owners spend a huge amount of their waking hours in the store environment, and it can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut and let the store and its staff get stale. Planning events such as this keeps things fresh and interesting, not just for staff but also customers. Where else but in an independent store would you be greeted by cucumber sandwiches and Pimm’s for the Queen’s jubilee?

There is always an occasion you can play with, whether it be a local football derby, Burns’ Night, Wimbledon, Valentine’s Day, St Andrew’s Day (or Patrick, George or David).

So I would say to every store owner, pick an occasion, get your staff involved, speak to your suppliers about promotional support and POS, and get creative! If you can, get your reps to help you. You’ll be amazed what it can do for sales and your local profile. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and customers love to feel they are getting a little bit back.

Remember, you only get back from your business what time and effort you put in.