Recently, a business owner asked me why more locals don’t visit his boutique shops. His successful supermarket next door that gets plenty of traffic but he’s had a great deal of difficulty drawing people to his indoor “European Village.” I told him I’d check it out and report back before we discussed advertising.
The ”Village” building sits back off the road on the edge of town (the opposite end of town from the Super Wal-Mart). It isn’t the highest traffic location around but the attached supermarket does well.
I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car and looked for the entrance. The exterior of the building resembles a chalet. Awnings proclaim a Hallmark Shop, Clothing, Gifts and Café. There appear to be two entrances. One under the Café awning, one in a small courtyard blocked off by brick walls and wooded trellises. I’m confused. I don’t want to go into the café I want to wander through the shops. Hmm…
The courtyard door looks like it opens into the café as well. But the courtyard is abandoned. It is the middle of winter, and it looks like the café is closed. I look through the door under the café awning. It’s rather dark inside. I’m not sure I’m in the right place. I’m not getting very good vibes. I'm feeling borderline stupid. If I were a casual looky-lou, I'd turn around, go back to the car and leave. Instead, I look for a third door. No luck, so I open the door under the café awing and go in.
Whew, I chose wisely. Inside a pathway leads me through a delightful collection of small shops. There’s the café along with shops showcasing home accessories, Wisconsin made products, men’s and women’s clothing. All in all very warm, very interesting, a great place to explore. I even find a black leather jacket calling my name. Too bad the exterior of the building is so confusing and so uninviting.
I inform the "Village" owner that before spending more money on advertising he should put some money into exterior improvements. Something as simple as changing the awing over the front door to say, “Welcome” instead of Cafe would be a major improvement. The courtyard’s trellis should always be decorated – even in winter - since it acts as a front porch for the Village. Rope lighting would brighten and warm the space. Seasonally decorated grapevine wreaths would add a welcoming touch.
Advertising ends at your front door. Does your front door give prospective customers a warm welcome or a cold shoulder? Can they even find your front door?
Next time - "When You're Here You're On Vacation!"