Sue Smith, CBA Board Chairman

The summer sales slump is something retailers all know too well. Families are busy carting kids to sports practices, camp, and the neighborhood pool. So, how can stores stand out enough to draw parents and grandparents in … with kids in tow? Make August all about the children.


Reading programs can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make them. Let children know that if they read enough hours per grade level, it can add up to a prize at the end of the summer.


Kids love to be read to, and they love to share that time with friends. Find an adult to read to children, asking them to commit to a weekly reading in your store. Pay them with free books or an employee discount.


Showing family-friendly movies weekly gets the kids excited about your store. Our experience is that parents love to either enjoy the movie with them as a parent-child date or take the time to shop themselves. Another fun twist on this event is to host a “cars” party. Decorate cardboard boxes straight from your warehouse as cars. This turns the movie event into a drive-in theatre.


Ask your local fire and police to take an hour and park in your lot with their emergency lights going. Allow the children to get in the vehicles and get their pictures taken with rescue personnel with a digital camera. You can capture the parents’ email address when you offer to send them the picture.


Little girls love to dress up as a princess, enjoy a royal tea, a story time, and crafts. We end our gathering with a regal parade through the store waving at the customers.


Contact a local zoo or nature center to bring in some reptiles, birds, and unique animals for the children to see up close. One year this worked quite well for our store in that our program theme revolved around God’s creatures. I still remember the owl flying over their heads as they screeched aloud together.


Partner with your local ice cream shop or burger joint. When the children earn reading coupons, they can then be turned in for a small treat. We have found that these shops are very accommodating to this idea in that it brings them new customers.