Tempting Tourists

Every summer, tourists descend on villages, towns, cities and islands around the globe.  The current economy has more and more vacationers staying closer to home.  Regardless of whether you are in the San Juan Islands, the Junction in West Seattle or Plaka, Greece, one thing is true;  capturing these precious tourism dollars (or Euros) is essential to business survival for many small businesses.

In the tiny village of Plaka, Greece, there is a beautiful store called Noa. Noa stands out from all the other surrounding shops in several ways.  First, it is painted in a charming, eye-catching way.  So much so that each time I went to take this photo, I had to wait for there to NOT be shoppers in the picture.    Shopping around the village, I can tell you this was NOT true for the other shops.

Next, the details are 100% true to the “brand”.  In an area known for the beautiful color of the water, this boutique has made the sea foam green its signature color.  Everything from the simple wooden tables which serve as fixtures to the baskets to much of the merchandise is seafoam green.

The assortment of merchandise is a collection of artistic pieces both beautiful and often useful.   The price points also  vary.  There are items that are expensive, but there are equally items which are moderate and LOTS that are tempting enough in both beauty and price to inspire impulse purchases.  Guilty.  We bought a BAG FULL of “impulse” items – most as gifts.

The owner, who speaks little English was full of welcoming smiles and warm yet not intrusive assistance.  Without even asking, he put each of our purchases into small, sheer, drawstring bags in – you guessed it – sea foam green.  The items too large for such bags were wrapped in beautiful paper in – yes, sea foam green with silver design.  All put into a green shopping bag for us to take.

What can you learn from a shopkeeper in a tiny village on the isle of Crete halfway around the world in Greece?  Do you rely on tourist trade?  Could your business benefit from a shot in the arm of tourism dollars?  Then look at your business from the tourist point of view.  Does your business look inviting?  Are windows clean?  Perhaps doors propped open?  Do you look like a place I just “have to go in’?

When I do venture in, is it a warm and welcoming atmosphere?  Are your staff all tuned in to the needs – more specifically, the WANTS of the tourist client?  After all, when on vacation whether close to home or thousands of miles away, we want to feel at home and most importantly, we want to have FUN.  If you make shopping fun, I will consider the money I spent to be part of my “recreation”.

Is your merchandise conducive to impulse buys?  This involves price points, placement and portability!  Lastly, when I buy something, do you just toss it in a flimsy plastic bag or do you make me feel special with nice packaging?  Will the gifts I take home to family and friends reflect better on me because of your extra efforts in packing them?

Tourists, both locals and foreigners represent a great opportunity for small merchants.  People want to bring home a little of the local culture and done well, it can insure the survival of YOUR culture!

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