Many Penticton business owners agree that January and February are often the slowest months of the year, as they see a lull after Christmas shopping and before the bustling tourist season.
While some are opting to take that much-needed vacation, other store owners have begun to focus their efforts on keeping busy during this slow season and embracing new ways to bring customers through their doors. The key to this endeavour is being visible to the consumer.
“Traditionally this is the slow time of year, and that doesn’t make it right. What it does mean is that’s something we have to work on in this town,” said Daryl Clarke with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. “One of the things we have to do is realize that a business will not succeed on just tourist traffic. Your business is going to succeed when the people of Penticton back it year round and keep buying from it and utilizing it.”
As a Chamber initiative to promote shopping locally, Clarke is touring Penticton’s businesses one store at a time for the #PentictonFirst campaign, where he will have a T-shirt signed by employees and he posts about each stop on Facebook. He said his experience with each place so far has been great, noting that it’s been a great learning opportunity to see what Penticton truly has to offer.
“I’ve had people say to me, for example, that they didn’t know about the shoe repair in the Cannery Trade Centre. It’s encouraging people to just walk through the door and have questions about what people do in this town,” said Clarke.
“It’s kind of like taking a vacation in your own town, you have to walk around and go to places and see them.”
Lynn Allin, the executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association, said she’s seen members of the association employ creative strategies to put their brand out there.
“Many of our shop owners and businesses in general are developing like a really strong social media campaign,” said Allin. “And when you speak to some of these businesses that have really taken this on, their sales are great year-round.”
This is true for the men’s and women’s clothing store Elliot Row on Main Street. According to co-owner Matt Robertson, the process of keeping their social media and other online presences active is lengthy, but they always see a payoff to this strategy.
“In the clothing industry, online is so aggressive. It’s hard to say you’re going to go up against the (big box stores), you’re not trying to get that volume of sales,” said Robertson. “But what our customers want is they use our online store, especially in colder weather, to see what’s going on, what’s new. Social media like Instagram is huge for us – we have people direct messaging us if we make a post (saying to) hold something so they can come get it.”
Robertson said February is still “by far their slowest month” but he and co-owner Lori Robertson were able to use that to their advantage to book a business trip to get more inventory for the store. They also plan to take their holidays during this slower season as well.
Sylvia Petrasekova, of Petrasek Bakery on Main Street, said they’ve seen business increase substantially in just one week thanks to the help of a small sandwich sign outside their front door.
“Last week at 5 p.m. our store was empty, and now this week we have seen so many more customers coming in until close,” said Petrasekova.
Their bakery opened November 2018 but has already seen a steady increase in customers, thanks in part to their active Facebook page. Petrasekova said she believes signage and making your business visible to passersby is critical in keeping busy.
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