If you believed me that the distraction IS your business now, then you might be thinking about events. You want to bring more life and activity to the area around your business, but big events are a big pain. Let’s do some tiny events instead. They’re a small pain, but a lot of fun.
- Recruit anyone who gives lessons to hold a student performance (could be music, dance, martial arts, drama, writing, language, anything!) Students bring families, instant crowd
- Bring games, tables and chairs and hold a game night (board games, card games, dominoes, legos, you name it)
- Bring beach chairs and umbrellas and pretend you have a downtown beach (play beachy summer music for bonus points)
- Hold a tasting or sampling from any local winery, food business, or even cooking classes
- Pop-up card table sized businesses (see our pop-up fair instructions here)
- Read poetry or start community conversations on any topic you like (poetry slam?)
In a small town, you can’t wait for someone else to create the events and bring the people. Do one of these next week. Then try it again. Of course it will start small, with only a few people. Keep going. Spread the word. See what happens. Enjoy the process.
Not working out? Try a different one. Keep testing and improving.
Where can you do it?
- Inside your business
- In your parking lot
- On nearby empty lots
- In pocket parks
- In a nearby empty building
- In a roofless building
You can see that this is Idea Friendly in action, right? It’s Taking Small Steps because it’s a mini-event. It’s Gathering Your Crowd because you’re publicly spreading the word about bringing life and activity downtown. And it’s Building Connections as you give people new chances to talk to each other.
When I shared this in my weekly email A Positive View of Rural, more ideas came back from readers.
LOVE #3, the beach party. We hosted one in our little cafe in a town of under 100 (Cope, CO – we were the biggest (usable) building besides the church) years ago. Kiddie wading pools, beach balls, Hawaiian shirts, fun foods and grownup-kid friendly drinks, in the middle of a snowstorm. It was so much fun, and it broke up winter boredom.
Game night: the bitty community of Butte ND with 40 people +/- hosts community coloring afternoon with those fancy coloring books. Nearly everyone goes.
One of my neighbors organized pop up popsicle parties for our neighborhood the past two summers. Everyone just brought their favorite flavors and stashed them in big coolers. We all met at one intersection, and it was a great time. Neighbors reconnected, the little kids made new friends, and no organization was required other than sending out the invites by email. It looks like this might expand in late November with a pop up hot chocolate party.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.