In a recent post, I shared how to use FaceBook Places to engage a local customer base. I also recently shared at my FaceBook Page an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about “pop- up” stores. A similar FaceBook discussion, specifically concerning restaurants, here. (Click those links to participate in FaceBook conversations on the topic.) Pop-ups are temporary branded retail stores set up inside traditional stores. They stay for a while and then close down.
When IBN member Kaila Westerman (pictured below with me) told me she was doing something similar, I was thrilled and wanted to share it with you. The opportunity for you to sell a lot during an “event” that you host, during a short period of time, is exciting. And with all the location-based social tools available, it's a great way to grow your local customer base. Kaila (one of my sponsors) told me about a “Fast Buy” event she has planned for October 2 in the Bay Area where she and her business, TKB Trading, have been located for 15 years. Kayla's event has much in common with a “pop-up” event, and she graciously agreed to share why she's doing it and what she's learned that could help you host a similar event in your local area.
dM: Tell me about your event.
Kaila: It's called a “Fast Buy,” and it will take place on October 2 from 8:00 until noon at TKB Trading's San Francisco warehouse. We are filling the front part of the warehouse with drums of oils, pallets of bulk salts, butters, soap base, and of course our famous pigments. People in the Bay Area are invited to come and meet us, as well as pour off product at “fast buy” pricing. People will enjoy discounts for using their own containers.
dM: Why do you see the need for this event?
Kaila: A few months ago, I visited a local second-generation lotion manufacturer and he confided in me that, last year, he nearly went out of business. This didn't make sense to me because the Bay Area is huge, and people here support each other. I believe the reason his business faltered is because he has essentially no local presence. In the past, you could get away with that. But while today’s shoppers often check the Internet first, they also want opportunities to buy local, and to connect and have fun with other people in their area.
People sometimes forget to check locally for the products and services they need, but when reminded that they can support local businesses and also meet up with others in their area, they are happy to come out. The Bay area doesn’t need to lose more businesses and jobs. I wanted to do more to help local people connect with local businesses, and hosting a Fast Buy in my local community is a fun way to do that.
dM: Why do you think people will come?
Kaila: As all of this stewed in my head, I began to notice that the handful of locals who came to TKB for a “local pickup” traveled all around the Bay Area to buy different supplies. First they went to Concord for soap base, then to TKB for pigments, then to the airport for containers, then to Union City for salts, and so forth. Everyone was driving around to the same places. I thought it would be great to bring them all here to get what they need in one place, and have fun at the same time.
Finally, I have always wanted to increase my personal connection to my customers. Sometimes, Internet relationships feel too small. I want a place where people can gather, and I can get juiced. I am itching to get a bunch of people into one room brainstorm about how we can do things differently.
I also expect to get some new ideas on how TKB Trading can better support the local economy, save on shipping, reuse containers, etc. I want to walk the walk as much as I talk the talk. I think local Bay Area people will support that. They'll get as much, or even more, out of it than I will. Our Fast Buy event is a first, modest start to the idea. If we get a good response, we'll expand on it.
dM: What tips and insights can you share with others who may want to plan a similar event?
Kaila: If your goals match mine, my biggest recommendation is not to get too greedy. When I first ordered the inventory, I quickly realized that setting prices at a “typical markup” was a mistake. In order to achieve my goals, I needed to run a true “fast buy,” where prices reflect the power of the bulk buy. So I've adjusted my prices downward daily as I renegotiate and rethink. This has no doubt confused people, and since you only get one chance to get people's attention, I think this was a mistake.
dM: What else can you share about this exciting event?
Kaila: I really hope that all San Francisco Bay Area fans connect with us on October 2 from 8 to noon at our Fast Buy event. I believe that connecting with and supporting each other in real time, face to face, is an important part of supporting our local economy. TKB has a chance to take on an adjacent 10,000 square feet of space which could be used to expand on this concept, but nothing will happen if we don't all start making those connections.
dM: Thanks for sharing, Kaila. If I were in the Bay Area, I would be front and center at 8:00 on October 2. What a great chance to meet like-minded people, take pictures and create memories. You can't do all of that online. Don't forget to help people use their smart phones to Tweet via Gowalla and/or Foursquare, and via FaceBook Places check-in to help spread the fun as you prepare for your event. I have no doubt that your 10,000 square foot facility will be in full swing in short order!
Question: What do you think of the pop-up concept, and or Kaila's invitation to join her on October 2 for her Fast Buy?