Hi, I am planning on opening a candy store later this year. I am working on the business plan now and I need to think of some more low cost of free ways to drive traffic into the store. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

As a small business owner, there are several ways to attract business to your store without advertising or spending a lot of money. Here are a few ideas:

 Join a business association representing the area where your store is located. This is an association of business owners who meet regularly, usually a weekly or monthly luncheon, to network and discuss business issues common to all of the businesses in the area. You’ll get to know them and their products or services, and they’ll get to know you and yours. You could bring samples of your candies to a meeting or two. Yum.

 Join a business networking group or a service club. Most of these groups allow only one business person of any particular industry as a member. Then they try and help each other out by referring clients to each other’s business. It’s a great source of referrals and a great way to get exposure for your business.

Have a grand opening the day you open your store. Invite the Mayor, town council, local celebrities, etc. Have a ribbon-cutting ceremony and make sure to invite the editor of the local paper (get some free press out of it).

Use the internet as much as possible to advertise your store. Develop a website or hire someone to do so where you can capture contact information from people who visit it. Sell candy on the internet, too. Why not? You are opening up a huge market there, not just local but worldwide.

As much as possible become involved in community activities. Do volunteer work and make sure everyone you work with knows who you are and what you do.

Develop a mailing list of customers and potential customers. Ask the local title insurance company for set of DataQuik labels (names and addresses of homeowners in surrounding neighborhoods on mailing labels) or have a REALTOR friend do it (should be free). Then send a direct-mail flyer monthly or quarterly. Target neighborhoods heavy in the families-with-small-kids populations (big candy consumers). Include a few two-for-one coupons in the envelope.

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