Catching students and faculty before they leave campus for the holidays can be challenging. Try these fun and creative ways to increase traffic and guarantee your students head home rocking (and gifting) your gear this holiday season.
In the coming weeks, colleges will transition from the hustling and bustling micro-cities they are during the semester to quiet campuses as students head home for the holidays. Before they make their way off campus, draw them into your spirit stores using these seven creative ideas!
1) Dress up your window displays
Your daily displays can turn into fun, cheerful winter wonderlands with a little bit of creativity and effort. Tape ribbons and bows vertically along your display cases to make them look like beautifully wrapped gifts or create colorful paper chains and snowflakes to hang from the ceilings around the store. Twinkle lights can immediately add to the ambiance and can be used year after year, without breaking the budget. You can go one extra step and create a fun backdrop for holiday selfies with prizes or discounts for tagging your store on social media.
2) Highlight the perfect stocking stuffers at your register
Bandanas, koozies, patches, and keychains make the best stocking stuffers and the displays can typically fit perfectly by a register. Encourage your staff to ask if guests are interested in buying a stocking stuffer when they check out. Sell “Mystery Stocking Stuffers” that are already wrapped and students and parents alike will enjoy the fun of finding out together what’s inside!
3) Host an Ugly Sweater Day Discount
Host an Ugly Sweater Day and encourage your staff to wear one and spread the word to the student body. For every student who wears an Ugly Sweater to your store, you can offer a discount or a giveaway! Snap some photos for posting!
4) Ramp up (don’t give up on) your social media
It’s easy to taper off when it comes to social media at the end of the semester, but consider a weekly post like “Merry Monday” or “Winter Wednesday” and share items throughout November and December that are still in stock and make great gifts. Secret Santas will love some ideas that make their job easier!
5) Gift cards are one size fits all!
The holidays are a perfect time to promote gift card sales. Offer a gift discount with purchase and slip the gift card into a mug, padfolio, or ID holder so the recipient can unwrap the selected gift too. Have a display for gift cards at your register and make sure all staff are familiar with the process to sell them. Encourage sales with a contest with your staff that rewards the teammate who sells the most gift cards.
6) Wrap It Up
Partner with a student organization, greek group, or athletic team for a few days of free wrapping - even gifts that are not from your store. Set up a table at the entrance of your store and it will bring people into the store and add some excitement. Optional donations can make this a fundraising event for the group or community outreach such as funds for Toys For Tots. Promote the event ahead of time with some flyers or other promotional campaigns.
Design your own 12 days of discounts campaign and see what business you can drum up! Some ideas include 20% off for student workers, 20% off for all faculty, a student-athlete discount, a staff discount, etc. If deep discounts don’t work for your store, consider a small gift that’s given to those folks on certain days.
Campus stores can create community and bring joy during finals! Don’t let your students head home without repping your spirit wear. Tell us what creative ideas you’ve incorporated into your store around the holidays!
Contributor: Jaye Lynn Bergers, Account Development Manager at Akademos.
Jaye Lynn joined the Akademos team in September 2022 after working in higher education for most of her career. She’s been a member of admissions teams, student services, and special operations - including the bookstore and retail. Along with her thorough experience on college campuses, Jaye Lynn has worked independently as a consultant to colleges and universities, helping with bookstore and merchandise operations. She resides in Michigan and will help our partners primarily along the East Coast!