Opening your new retail store is a journey. You’ve taken an idea and, after a lot of hard work and complicated steps, made it a reality—an actual business where your community can come to shop. When your store is nearly ready to open, the next step is to celebrate your accomplishment and get folks in the door: It’s time to plan your grand opening!
A well-executed grand opening is a crucial leapfrog toward success. There is no better way to introduce your business to the community, attract customers, boost your profile, and ultimately kick-start your business.
This article will help set you up for a well-planned, thoughtful grand opening by highlighting the questions—and the answers—that will help you create the opening event of your dreams.
What are the goals of my grand opening?
It seems like a simple question, but it’s such an important one. How you answer will play a key role in shaping what your grand opening looks like. The grand opening can be simply the first day your store is open to the public, or you can choose to throw a special grand-opening event. A dedicated event can be great for relationship-building with customers and other community members.
Some businesses will throw a friends-and-family event, offering discounts to a select group of invitees to serve as a sort of test run.
When deciding what your grand opening should look like, start with your complete pie-in-the-sky day. Mapping out your dream day will help surface your priorities and help you best direct your energies and resources leading up to the event.
- If you imagine empty shelves at the end of the day, then you should prioritize sales above all else.
- If you long for a line around the block, then you should prioritize getting the word out to as many people as possible.
- If you hope to get your event trending on social media, then you should prioritize creating a photogenic and high-energy event.
- If you dream of getting your whole community to join your email list, then you should prioritize local media, posters, and flyers—and in-person intros.
What resources can help make my grand opening a success?
Before you get too overwhelmed feeling like you need to pull together this life-defining event all on your own, take a minute to take stock. Ask yourself what (and who) can help offer you insight and support between now and your big day. For example:
Friends and family
Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family during this busy time. They will want to support you with everything from their expertise to their willingness to spend an evening helping you paint the store. For farther-flung friends, feel free to reach out online. If you come up against a tough choice or confusing form, post on your social media channels to see if anyone has any insight or similar experience. And as you post about your grand-opening event, ask your friends and family to share the information with their own networks. It truly does take a village!
Fellow store owners
The best way to get helpful advice about starting a retail store is to talk to people who have been there. Reach out to local shop owners in your area to get insight on running a business and take a look at their space, products, and marketing to gather inspiration. Connect with the small business owner community in your retail location to do some valuable networking, explore potential partnerships, and raise brand awareness.
Local community groups
More formally, your local chamber of commerce acts as a business network for your community. A chamber of commerce membership allows you to be featured in newsletters, increases your business’s visibility, and offers networking opportunities. Membership also gives your business credibility in the eyes of the customer. To find out the cost of joining and how to do so, find and contact your local chamber directly and ask for a membership packet. To further widen your network, see if your area has additional associations worth joining.
Open with Faire
The best way to have a successful opening day is to make sure your store is filled with things your customers have been searching for and things they didn’t even know they needed. But finding vendors for all of those perfect products could take a lifetime. And then there is the stress of the upfront costs. Open with Faire is an underwriting program that allows retailers to purchase up to $20K in new inventory—paying 60 days later with no fees or interest. There are thousands of vendors to choose from, and you can search for everything from vendors in your area to vendors that align with your specific values to vendors not available on Amazon.
How should I promote my grand opening?
Getting the word out about your grand opening will make all the difference between a bustling first day and a quiet one. Brace yourself for telling people early, telling people often—and telling people in as many different ways as possible. Here is a list of tactics to keep handy.
One of the best ways to promote your grand opening is with things like flyers and posters and brochures. You can hire someone to put up posters in your area and slip flyers into mailboxes (following all existing bylaws of course!). For the retailer on a budget who can’t hire a freelance designer, Canva can be an incredible resource for designing these materials. At a low cost, you can craft creative assets for your business from their thousands of available branding templates. The app has a simple drag-and-drop interface so that even if you have no design experience, you’re empowered to create beautiful content.
Email is another great way to get the word out. Successful email marketing includes building a robust subscriber list. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start collecting email addresses from your potential customers. Try adding a simple form on your website to capture visitor information. You can also prompt customers who make a purchase to sign up for your emails at checkout. If you’re active on social media, ask your followers to sign up for your emails and include a sign-up form in an easy-to-access location.
Here are a few types of emails and how you can use them to promote your grand opening:
- Welcome emails: Sent when a customer first subscribes to your email list. This is a great place to give an overview of your business and even offer a small new-subscriber discount. Make sure that every welcome email includes an invitation to attend your grand-opening event!
- Newsletters: Sent on a regular basis to keep your subscribers updated on what’s new with your business, make any announcements and highlight exciting upcoming events like your grand opening.
- Transactional emails: Sent when someone takes a specific action, like buying something from your store or RSVPing to an event.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is one of the best tactics that small businesses can use to attract new customers with minimal effort or investment. To use word of mouth to promote your opening, you could offer an incentive such as a small discount or free gift to anyone who brings a friend to the event.
You can share details about these incentives via social media, on your website, through an email campaign, and with flyers or postcards included with a purchase.
Social media is a great way to reach new customers. You can use it to tell your story, build a community, connect with vendors and other stores, boost sales, and drive traffic to a website or brick-and-mortar location.
Start with registering for social media accounts for your shop and making sure they are set to “business” rather than “personal” accounts. Be prepared to get creative with usernames because a lot of good ones are already taken. Consider adding the name of your city or a word like “store” to the end of your name.
To gather inspiration for topics to post about, browse the pages of accounts that have a similar audience as your business for ideas. Consider taking beautiful photos of your products in a seasonal setting or create a fun scene with merchandising inspiration for retailers centered on an upcoming holiday or month such as Pride or Women’s History Month, then share the images on Instagram.
Make sure to include relevant and timely hashtags so you can get discovered by new followers, and read our product photography tips so you can put your best photos forward. You can also use TikTok or Instagram Reels to post videos showcasing your products or sharing how they’re made, while Facebook and Instagram Live videos are a great way to speak directly to your followers online.
Here are some popular content ideas to post on your social media channels leading up to your grand opening:
- Behind-the-scenes posts: Give viewers a tour of your space, document a product display being assembled, introduce your staff, explain the details of your services or how your products are made, or offer a look at a day in the life of a small business owner.
- Reminders and updates: As the details of your grand opening come together, keep your followers up to date every step of the way. Make sure to create social media versions of all of your flyers and posters to share on your channels. As you share details about your opening day, share a discount code that your followers can pass along as well, and of course encourage them to come to the event itself!
- Surveys and polls: There are multiple ways to ask questions on Instagram that are helpful for gaining customer feedback and driving traffic to your store. For example, ask followers about their favorite products or what they’re hoping to see in your store for the grand opening.
In addition, tagging your post with a physical location will help build an association between your business and the community in which you’re located. And remember! An unengaged audience can quickly lose sight of your business. It’s good practice to promptly reply to any direct messages from followers and respond to comments and mentions of your business.
Finally, consider having a hashtag for your grand-opening event. This will help you easily keep track of posts made by your attendees, so you can comment to thank them for making your day special and share their posts in your own channels.
As you get closer to your grand opening, keep your eye out for events that your target audience will be attending and see if there are opportunities for you to have a presence. Sign up for a table at a neighborhood yard sale and give out flyers and discount coupons. Or buy an advertisement in the program of an upcoming fundraiser or performance—and in your local newspapers.
What special offerings can create interest in my grand opening?
Now that you can picture your dream day in your head, you can start to make concrete plans. Depending on your goals, here are some things you can offer attendees to build enthusiasm, engagement, and a loyal customer base.
Make it a party
There are some tried-and-true ways to bring in an enthusiastic crowd, like food and music. Consider hiring a caterer or partnering with a local bakery—no one is ever upset about free food! If you have the space, you can also set the tone by hiring a local musician or small musical group that aligns with the overall aesthetic and vibe of your shop.
Offer opening-day discounts
Retail customers are always looking for ways to save some money with promotions and discounts, and they will travel surprising distances to do it! To bring in shoppers from near and far, you can offer buy-one-get-one deals or early-bird discounts on a few big-ticket items. Consider keeping the momentum going with limited-time sales for your opening week.
Run a contest
You can also run raffles during the sale event or hold a competition and give out gift cards or products as prizes. For example, if you specialize in beauty products, you could hold a contest for most creative makeup; if you sell arts and crafts, you could hold a competition for best DIY project of the evening; and if you’re a pottery store, you could hold a wheel-throwing competition. Regardless of the specific event, incorporating contests or games like scavenger hunts into a sale is likely to increase customer interest and get more new shoppers in your door.
Install a selfie wall
You want to encourage your attendees to take pictures at your event to share on their social media channels. One way to do this is by having a statement wall that creates the perfect opportunity for selfies—like something with a beautiful wallpaper or neon sign. You can consider offering a discount to anyone who tags your shop or uses your hashtag.
You might also offer a limited number of free gifts to those first to arrive so the event feels more exclusive for the early birds. You could also give out coupons as an incentive to return and buy more before the coupon’s expiration date. Consider something like a 15% off coupon for anyone who buys something and a 5% off coupon for anyone who signs up for your email list.
How can I build on the momentum of my grand opening?
You want to make sure that you build on the energy and enthusiasm you created on your opening day! There are a few simple ways you can do that.
- Follow-up emails to subscribers: Send thank-you emails to everyone who took the time to sign up for your newsletter on your opening day. You can also send a special note (and reminder of the discount code) to anyone who made a purchase.
- Write thank-you emails and notes: There are likely some folks who went above and beyond to help make your grand opening a success. Send them a personalized email or even a thank-you card (with discount coupon!) to cement your good impression.
- Post pictures on social: Make sure your personal and professional followers know that your grand opening was a rousing success! Post pictures of the event on social media, being sure to use your hashtag and tag as many people and brands as possible.
- Post a thank you: In addition to the pictures and recaps, be sure to also take the time to write a more personal post talking about how the event went, what it meant to you, and how grateful you are for everyone who was part of it, and where you plan to go from here.
Planning and promoting—and then hosting!—a grand-opening event is a lot of work. But as you look around the room at all of your happy customers, you will remember why you wanted to open a store in the first place.
Are you opening a new retail business? Read more about Open with Faire and learn how to apply for up to $20,000 to use toward buying products on Faire.