Brick-and-mortar retailers have a key advantage over online shopping: there’s an actual space for you to bring people together. Creating in-store events is a great way to connect with your customer base and grow your community. These events reinforce the relationship between you and your customers, reminding people why they already love your products and providing an opportunity to introduce them to your latest offerings. All you really need are some fun retail event ideas.

Luckily, we can help you there. We have plenty of ideas, as well as tools such as Eventbrite Boost, that make it simple to market and promote your in-store event on social media and beyond. Our platform also makes it easy for you to incorporate streaming platforms and create hybrid events to include audiences that can’t make it to your store.

To start you off, we’ve put together this guide full of event ideas for retail stores, along with marketing tips and success stories from our creators, so you can take full advantage of the space you have available and create something memorable. Remember: before planning any in-person event, check your latest state-specific COVID-19 guidelines.

Tips for planning in-store events

When brainstorming promotional event ideas for retail stores, it’s good to start with a broad overview of your store, your community, and your goals before deciding on a format and topic. This helps you create a solid foundation on which to build your event and enhances your chances of success.

Know your customers

If you don’t know who your audience is, how will you know how to interest and inspire them? As your customer base will likely make up most of your audience, be sure to notice who your customers are. The types of events that appeal to university students, for example, will probably be different from those that appeal to families.

Branding is key

While whatever event you decide on can be interesting and entertaining in and of itself, it’s important to remember that hosting an event can grow your brand by growing your community. This means it’s essential to take full advantage of every branding opportunity you can. Make sure your brand is included in all parts of the event, such as flyers.

Don’t be afraid to stand out

If you want to get noticed, it helps to pick retail event ideas that are noticeable or make your event stand out. While a book reading of the newest murder mystery at your independent bookstore might be an easy choice, consider turning it instead into a murder mystery event and have your attendees figure out who the murderer is. Bookstores are full of stories, so focus on story themes or characters. Take what’s unique about your store and highlight that with your event. If it’s a fashion boutique, then holding a fashion show – complete with a catwalk – might get some attention. Let your imagination run with it.

Take advantage of the holiday season

Dates around holidays are perfect to schedule your retail events. People are generally already in a good mood, they’re more willing to go out to events, and they can often be in the market to purchase gifts as well. Plus there are probably more shoppers around your store’s location during the holidays, so your event will be more likely to attract passers-by who may not be familiar with your event or your store.

Retail event ideas to get you started

Now that you’ve considered some concepts for your event, it’s time to determine what sort of formats and topics will help your store marketing plan. No matter what idea you decide to go with, be sure to adapt your plan to suit your brand’s identity. That way, your guests will have an engaging experience learning about your products, and you’ll reinforce your branding by making it integral to the event.

Host a fundraiser

Turn your event into a fundraiser and make a contribution to society while associating your brand with altruistic and noble undertakings. The great thing is, it doesn’t really matter what sort of retail sector you’re in – there’s almost always a charitable angle that you can pursue. For example, if you have a bakery, host a fundraiser benefitting underprivileged kids to go to patisserie school.

Hold a class or demonstration

People love to learn, especially when it’s about something they’re interested in and want to explore. Retail event ideas that teach a new skill or give attendees new knowledge can be effective, especially if your store sells products that are used in the class. For example, cooking classes and demonstrations make natural – and popular – events for stores that sell kitchen appliances. Similarly, if you sell electronics goods, host a demonstration that teaches how to best outfit your home theatre.

Showcase a product

If you have a special product you want to draw attention to, consider hosting a product showcase event that highlights everything you want people to know about the product. If it’s a new fashion line for your boutique – hire some models and show off the goods. Make the presentation attention-grabbing with special lighting and music.

Bring in a guest speaker

Guest speakers can create excellent events, especially if the guest is noteworthy or accomplished. An author at a bookstore is a classic example, but there’s a host of other possibilities. Invite a jeweller to speak at your jewellery boutique, or invite a gaming streamer to your video game store for a signing.

Thank your community

Express your gratitude to your returning – and new – customers with a special customer appreciation event. Creating a memorable, positive event can be enough to persuade customers that it’s worth continuing to shop with your business – and you get to spread the word about your products, too.

Get creative with social media

Social media can be a great way to get the word out about your event. Offer a promotion to anyone who shares a post about your event and give them 10% off in-store. Eventbrite Boost makes it easy to promote your event across a range of social media sites, magnifying the number of people who learn about your event.

Offer freebies

There’s a reason big-name companies give free gifts to celebrities at awards shows. Or offer a limited number of goodie bags – stocked with some of your favourite items – to your customers on a first-come, first-serve basis to encourage early arrivals. The more people that learn about your product, the better.

Run a competition

Another retail marketing event idea to promote your brand is holding a competition. Have a breakout during your event for a special prize draw, giving away a store item to the lucky winner. Or go for the classic option – a trivia quiz – but make the questions focus on your brand.

Retail event ideas that turned into success stories

It can help to know what in-store event ideas have worked in the past and what other event creators in similar situations are doing. It gives you a sense of whether your ideas are on track or if they might be unworkable. Here’s what some of our event creators have been up to.

99 Bikes

In multiple locations across Australia, bike store 99 Bikes hosts a monthly class on basic maintenance, free for club members. Riders learn how to clean and assess their bike for safety, resolve simple mechanical issues, and change a tyre and tube if they end up with a flat. These events build trust between 99 Bikes and their customers, helping club members gain confidence and the skills to independently take care of their bikes. 99 Bikes also runs women-only maintenance classes, as well as E-Bike group rides for customers to test out and learn more about electric bikes.

The Allure Store

The Allure Store, created by beauty magazine Allure, is a New York City boutique specialising in skincare, makeup, and haircare products. Alongside beauty care products, their store emphasises a high-tech shopping experience. And as a major part of that experience, they highlight a different brand at each promotion in their ongoing event series. This gives guests the opportunity to try a new product and further strengthens The Allure Store’s beauty care brand identity.

The Hop & Grain Brew Store

The Hop & Grain Brew Store in Marrickville runs their own class on basic brewing, where attendees can learn everything they need to know to make their own home-brewed beer. Specifically designed for people who have never brewed before or have only just started out, the two-hour event features a demonstration and a Q&A session. To boost their sales, The Hop & Grain Brew Store offer starter kits and refills after the class for attendees ready to get started on their own brew.

The Leica Store

The Leica Store in Los Angeles is hosting a Test Drive of its newest camera set, where customers at the event can schedule a special one-hour session to try out Leica’s latest high-end camera. The top camera brand’s West Hollywood store frequently hosts photography-focused events, too – one recent event saw them partnering with a local dance studio to teach guests a multiple-exposure technique known as stroboscopic lighting.

Turn your retail event ideas into an event reality

Once you’ve decided on the best format for your in-store gathering, you’ll need an all-in-one event platform to create your event. We can help make planning and hosting your in-store event easier with our registration and ticketing software and marketing tools, such as Eventbrite Boost. You can then focus your full attention on hosting an exciting and memorable experience. Get started today.