Looking for ways to attract shoppers in the Millennial (born 1997-1995) and Gen Z (born in 1996 and after) age categories to your store? One key way is to offer activities that will appeal to both young parents and their children.  Families are often looking for things to do together, especially on weekends.

Holidays offer a perfect opportunity to create a community family event. Think beyond visits with Santa to include an egg roll and photos with the Easter bunny, a Maypole celebration, a Memorial Day or 4th of July bike parade, and a costume contest on Halloween.  Or invent your own holiday for a themed event such as Pirate Day.

Kids activities should be a part of any promotion in your shopping area. The bouncy castle — which pays for itself with its $1 admission price — is one of the most popular features of the Monroe Street Festival, although we recently had to resolve an issue about special “bouncer” liability insurance. We also feature face painting, a visit from Henry the Lion mascot and often some of the education animals from the nearby Henry Vilas Zoo, and at least one children’s entertainment act.  Do the parents who bring their children to the Festival also shop? You bet they do.

You can also offer family friendly activities in your store.   Check with entertainers such as magicians who do children’s birthday parties to see if there is someone who could come do a special event in your shop.  This is a perfect opportunity to get some great PR in social media.  In addition to your own posts, encourage those in attendance to share their photos on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.  

At our store we do several contests that are open to both children and adults, including our upcoming 40th annual Egg Art Contest. We keep a stash of printed prize ribbons on hand, because we know how much kids love getting these, and also are generous in the number of prizes we offer based on the ages of the entrants.  

Be sure to greet children in the store and speak to them in addition to their parents.  These are our customers of the future, so we’re happy to see them — and to have their mothers and fathers shopping locally instead of online.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder