Would you host a car boot in your car park?

Let’s face it, trying to think outside the box to drum up footfall in your store can sometimes lead to falling back into the same old, same old trap – the ‘clearance sale’ or ‘seasonal sale’. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed something interesting happening in the furniture retail space, with some retailers not only thinking outside the box, but blowing the box completely off! This month’s blog shares a few examples of events that may help your thinking when looking to do something a bit different. 

To kick things off, let’s visit Leicester-based Choice Furniture Superstore, or as they like to be known – CFS. They recently celebrated their debut ‘Influencer Event’, which was a big success. So, what’s an ‘Influencer Event’ I hear you ask? Well, for CFS it involved a lineup of influencers and industry experts, from fashion bloggers and beauty gurus to lifestyle influencers and interior designers, who shared their insights and experiences with visiting guests. The event also provided ample networking opportunities, allowing attendees to connect with like-minded individuals and forge valuable relationships within the industry. 

“We ran this event to give our local customers and loyal followers an insight of what we are doing new and what we have in the pipeline,” CFS said. “It was an amazing experience and was a lot busier than originally expected. We had many influencers and industry experts attend. We had arranged canopy snacks and drinks along with a DJ and magician to add a little bit of fun and entertainment to the evening. Ultimately, we wanted to create exposure across social media to boost our followings and get a good online community and so far, the results have been really good. We’ll be doing many more of these events in the future following this initial success.”

While you ponder how you can best facilitate such an event, think about local people who are on social media, or businesspeople from other independents that can share valuable experiences, or even perhaps higher education students. Now let’s turn our attention to Fabb Furniture in Swindon. Earlier this year they co-hosted an event in partnership with the Swindon Wildcats. The free event included a 10% discount on everything in store, as well as live music throughout the afternoon, a prize giveaway and networking opportunities. Even the Worshipful the Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Barbara Parry, was in attendance. “This was an unmissable opportunity to get your local business contacts bang up to date whilst enjoying some fun Wildcats-style entertainment and the chance for a spot of exclusive in store shopping,” Fabb said. Oh, they even threw in free Pimm’s too! 

Next on our event-spree takes us to Peter Green Furnishers, where they recently praised the success of its ‘Peter Green Health and Wellbeing Event’. Held in Spring this year, it was the first time it had ever launched such a promotion, and, following its success, will now be a permanent annual fixture in their calendar. They explained: “To begin with we invited a number of health and wellness professionals from the local community to ‘set up shop’ in our Chandlers Ford Store for one Saturday in March. Next, we invited our neighbours and customers to come along and explore the benefits of sleep, relaxation, proper posture and a healthy diet and lifestyle from the experts with an emphasis on improving both mental and physical health. The response was overwhelming. We had over 20 experts sign up to demonstrate their services ranging from chiropractors to people who were able to map inflammation using special technology. When we opened the doors, 300 guests joined us and enjoyed free massages, healthy smoothies and lots of free advice on how to improve their lifestyles.”

Not bad, eh? Not only did the event prove such a success, it was far more engaging than just a typical ‘open house’ style approach and from the pictures, which you can see if searched on Big Furniture Group, it seemed guests were very much into the whole concept. Our final trip takes us to Milton Keynes. In fact, the car park of the IKEA store located there. This month, IKEA hosted its first ever car boot sale in their store car park, which was aimed to help customers in prolonging the life of their used home furnishing goods, and also forms part of its wider strategy to be climate positive by 2030. Now, I know what you might be thinking, how does this help boost sales of new furniture? The idea here is to create a space where second-hand furniture can get another chance at life. Making the event free is another bonus to drive footfall. And while you have the numbers flocking to see what’s going to be their next upcycling project, it would be fair to say that some may venture instore too. 

Not only is this idea good for sustainability purposes, it brings the community together at your store. You may not get an immediate boost in new sales, but it’s an opportunity to create awareness, so why not take advantage of it with a promotion alongside. For the sellers, what ever they sell, you could match it with a discount of an instore item? Food for thought. It will be interesting if IKEA rolls this concept out across more of its car parks in 2024, an idea it has mulling over if MK is a success.

So, would you host a car boot in your car park? 

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