Recently, Madison, WI-based Orange Tree Imports joined forces with other local businesses on Monroe Street to put on a wedding showcase for newly-engaged couples. This bridal-focused event, said Carol Schroeder, owner of Orange Tree, was the brainchild of a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin.
“We recently teamed up with the University of Wisconsin’s school of business to learn how we can increase our wedding registries,” she said. “We found out that the average age of marriage is in the late 20s and early 30s and they aren’t as invested in the buy local movement as we think. But, their guests are.”
She said that she wanted to be able to promote all of the things that small businesses could offer newly-engaged couples and their shower and wedding guests and the students suggested a showcase-like event. So, instead of keeping it only focused on her store, Schroeder reached out to other small businesses on the block to ask for participation.
“We kept it simple. We had drinks and snacks and we asked the other businesses to donate a gift to the raffle. We didn’t charge them for anything,” she said.
The drawing, said Schroeder, enabled the businesses to capture the names and e-mails of couples in the area that are tying the knot in order to stay in touch with them through the process.
“We feel like this was successful and we were all satisfied with the turnout for the first time,” she said, adding that they are planning to do the event again next winter in order to accommodate spring weddings.
For other retailers thinking about planning an event like this, Schroeder said, getting as many businesses to join in is crucial.
“It is more efficient for the couples who come if there are more than one business – and a variety of types of businesses – represented,” she explained.
She also noted that business owners should also think about having food, beverages and giveaways. “Free stuff is always good,” she said.