Autumn is here, and it’s time to think about what you can do to use the change of seasons to draw customers in. Even if you don’t sell Halloween or Thanksgiving merchandise, you should take advantage of this new period on the retail calendar.

A change in the color or mood in your store can be a welcome change as we transition from summer to the fall. Some shops have a wall that they can paint or texture differently, and others use fabrics to provide new backdrops in the store or in window displays. Keep an eye out for sales on drapery panels, shades and shower curtains for inexpensive ways to change your store’s look.

Fall foliage can easily be added to your existing displays – either real pumpkins and leaves, or artificial ones. There are some fun themed strings of lights on the market now that can help add a seasonal touch. And even if you don’t normally carry home decor, consider ordering a few glass pumpkins or other fall decorations — and be sure to price them in case your customers find them irresistible.

An autumn clearance sale is a good way to move out summer goods so that you have room for new merchandise.  Start at 20% off to make as much margin as possible, and then go beyond 50% to get rid of the stragglers before it’s time to set up your holiday displays.

Looking for a fall special event? We sponsor ‘Trick or Treat on Monroe Street’ with our business neighbors the Sunday before Halloween (coinciding with a major kids event at the neighboring Henry Vilas Zoo). Participating businesses give candy to children in costume during the afternoon. This inexpensive promotion has grown into a popular family activity over the past few years.

Is there a way you can take advantage of the pumpkin spice craze? If you Google pumpkin-flavored foods, there are over 10 million matches — everything from lattes to dog food. You could bring the scent into your store through potpourri or candles.  Offer pumpkin-themed refreshments at a fall open house, or go a step further and sponsor a pumpkin-themed bake-off.

Change is important to keep customers coming back, and autumn offers us may opportunities to be creative and use the fall season to our advantage.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder