My brother’s bar has gone from $15,000 a week in sales to $9,000. Almost every business I’ve been talking to has seen drops. Some less, some more. But it’s like a new kind of bomb just hit our economy: one that didn’t do anything except remove customers from our streets.
So, what do you do? When I used to help run a store in the late 1980s in Silicon Valley I saw the same thing happen. What did we do? We held a tent sale. Sent out mail to all of our customers. Made handmade signs that we put up along Saratoga Ave. Put a big tent outside. Moved all of our inventory into the sidewalk. Lowered our prices. And sales went up that weekend quite a bit.
See, the customers are there, they just are hiding in the shadows preparing for the worst and trying to avoid getting killed too as this big storm moves across our economy.
It’s going to be tough to think “outside the box” the next couple of weeks. The shock of this economy and watching the stock market go down, down, down is too fresh and too nasty.
But coming soon are lots of conferences that are still doing well. I remember in 2000 when the bust started happening that we still had thousands of attendees at our conferences. It was the sponsors that disappeared first. That gives you an opportunity to hold a tent sale out in the street.
Yesterday I was talking with Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. He’s already thinking along those lines for visits to CES and SXSW — doing something low cost that shakes out customers. He knows attendance is going to be down, people will be depressed, budgets are already getting slashed, etc. So, we’re all putting on our thinking cap about how to do something low cost that’s metaphorically like the tent sale that gets us through the tough times by encouraging customers to come out of their holes and visit our businesses.
Got any ideas?
Hey, I have two of those Google tents. Maybe we can meet on the beach by the Half Moon Bay Ritz on Tuesday night, setup two of these tents, share some cheap wine and cheeze, and brainstorm about how to get customers over the next couple of months? I’ll meet you at the Ritz Fire Ring at 6 p.m. (on the Ocean Side) on Tuesday night and we’ll do just that.