A look at small business questions from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
By Arlene M. Soto CMA, CGBP, Southwestern SBDC Director

Im looking for ideas to attract more visitors in the area to my retail store.

Attracting more customers to any retail business is multi-faceted. Visitors need a reason to walk into a retail store: a nice window display, products they are interested in, referrals from people they trust, convenience, reasonable operating hours, the right location and many other factors. Once they are in the door, exceptional customer service, a clean and friendly environment are incentives for them to remain and shop.

Hundreds of books, consultants and online resources exist that provide retail advice to small and large retailers. Locally, the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce provides many benefits to member businesses. Most communities have a downtown association to assist member businesses. In Coos Bay the website is The Coos Bay Visitors Center has listings of local retail businesses along with information about what visitors should see and do in the area so make sure your business is listed on the website. A good starting place to learn more online is the National Retail Federation The Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center has access to market research and resources designed to help small businesses be more successful. The Oregon Main Street Program also has resources to assist towns in revitalizing downtown commercial districts.

At a recent Main Street training program two ideas were offered that might be helpful. First, adopt a partner store, learn each other’s products and promote the other store to keep visitors in the community longer. A second possibility is to work with the local visitors and convention bureau on a promotional campaign. When a convention comes to town, each visitor is given a raffle ticket and map of participating retailers. Visitors must then stop in stores on the map until they find the corresponding ticket number where they will be given a prize. Prizes need not be expensive. Visitors have fun and retailers have the advantage of many people walking through the doors who might not have stopped otherwise.

Creativity and working with other retailers in the area are great ways to improve the visitor and local customer traffic to your store.

The SBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network, the Oregon Business Development Department and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Arlene M. Soto has been the Director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center since July 2007. To ask a question call 541-756-6445, e-mail, or write 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend, OR 97459. Additional help is available at the OSBDCN Web page

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