VERO BEACH, Fla. — A group of small business owners in Indian River County is banning together to boost sales this holiday season.
On Friday, Nov. 13, several stores along Royal Palm Pointe in Vero Beach will kick off the holiday shopping season with a sidewalk sale from 5 to 8 p.m.
Ten percent of all sales generated during the event will be donated to the Hibiscus Children’s Center in Jensen Beach.
However, the holiday open house is also an opportunity to gain exposure and encourage the community to support their neighborhood stores.
“We’re lucky we’re in Florida and can be outside and do holiday pop-ups,” said Katie Gastley, founder of Botanica, a candle and apothecary company. “It’s given us a means to be creative this year about how to market to our customers.”
Darcy Dunbar, owner of Maison Beach, is one of the organizing stores involved in the November charity event.
“This is planned to be an indoor/outdoor event for social distancing,” said Dunbar. “We plan to have music and cash bars for beer and wine.”
Several small businesses are participating, including Rhonda's Seafood Market, Botanica, La Tabla Restaurant and Maison Beach
Dunbar recently received approval from city leaders to put tables outside of her gift shop, Maison Beach.
It’s part of her plan to put items on display and capture the attention of shoppers.
The idea is part of Dunbar’s strategy to make up for lost sales when stay-at-home orders forced her store to close temporarily.
March and April are traditionally busy months for tourism in Vero Beach, so she’s hoping the holiday season can make up for the dismal spring.
Dunbar continues to evolve her business model and also obtained and beer and wine license for on-premises consumption.
“I’ve always done gift baskets, so it really just made sense to be able to sell the beer and the wine that goes in the gift baskets,” said Dunbar. “There’s a few [business] models out there of stores that sell wine by the glass so customers can sip and shop.”
Dunbar hopes the additional beer and wine sales will also enhance the customer experience.
“I’ve got a really nice location with a nice covered walkway out front and actually out back overlooking the canal,” said Dunbar. “If people wanted to hang out and chat with somebody and have a couple of glasses of wine it would be a nice venue for it.”
The National Retail Federation is reporting an upward trend in the number of small businesses that are joining forces to succeed.
“Things that retailers typically wouldn’t do, they’re doing,” said Bill Thorne, senior vice president of communications and public affairs at the National Retail Federation. “Retail as an industry is incredibly competitive, but when you face times like this, the retailers really come together. Not just as an industry but for their colleagues and community.”
Thorne is reminding shoppers to support small businesses in their community.
“95 percent of retail establishments are operated by small business owners,” Thorne said.
The National Retail Federation launched a nationwide consumer education campaign called “New Holiday Traditions” to encourage consumers to shop safe and shop early amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is going to be a historic holiday season and while some memorable traditions may change, the tradition of retailers supporting their customers and their communities is stronger than ever. That is why we encourage consumers to adopt two new traditions this year – shop safe and shop early – so we can all celebrate a happy and healthy holiday,” said Matthew Shay, President, and CEO of the National Retail Federation.
The retail trade association is also encouraging small businesses to adapt to new consumer needs.
NRF says retailers across the country have established localized online marketplaces that combine neighborhood appeal and convenience.
“Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them.”
The Vero Beach stores along Royal Palm Pointe will host the holiday open house event on Friday, November 13th from 5 to 8 p.m.
Donations will support the Hibiscus Children's Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the Treasure Coast.
For more information about the event, click here.