Local Merchants Miss Opportunity to Impress

It was a chilly Halloween. So much so that we decided to take our little Giraffe and Tiger to the Faubourg de L’Ile, in Pincourt, Quebec to go trick or treating at an organized 3-5pm event where mall-goers could bring their dressed up kids and do the rounds indoors. Our thought was that maybe, if it rained or snowed, this would be a worthy substitute to the great outdoors and that kids and parents alike could satisfy their sweet tooth.

Boy were we wrong.

There was no lack of toddlers or tots all dressed up – and there were some cuties, but there was sadly, a lack of candy. We arrived around 330pm with the hopes of scoring some treats from the 50 odd shops, but more than half had already been through their treats. Little ones were being turned away left and right.

We learned that kids and parents had started arriving around 1pm, and the retail shopkeepers went around the “advertised” 3pm start and began giving away candy.

I’m not writing to complain our kids didn’t get enough candy – not at all. They (and most of all I) do not really need it. I’m writing because all (except for Dans un Jardin – they had a little perfume sample they gave away at the same time as some candy) of these shops failed to make a mark on these impressionable young kids, who as all adults know, have a pretty decent b-line on their parents purse-strings.

Better yet, all of these young kids will soon be shoppers, and what better way to leave a mark on a future consumer than to unload copious amounts of Halloween candy on them? Anyway, a pretty major #fail if you ask me.

A few of the shop keepers I’d spoken to said that the company that operates the mall (Cogir) were the ones that organized and marketed the event. They even went so far as to give each store 5 big bags of (pretty boring) candy which they happily and perhaps too generously began giving away as early as 1pm. Can’t really fault Cogir, but they should have at least encouraged the shop keepers to wait until 3pm to start giving the candy away. In theory, the idea is a great one, but why not have it last all day long?

For that matter, why wouldn’t any of the stores take it upon themselves to make a real mark and stand out from the other shops by giving away whole chocolate bars say? Or spend some $ and concoct some giant jujube out of their logo and give that away along with the run-of-the-mill candies?

Believe it or not, I don’t think it’s because they are cheap. I believe it is because they are all complacent marketers. Ones who would rather have this day (where kids in costumes and lollipops run amuck around their clothing displays) come and go as fast as possible.

Places like Canadian TireReitmans, Bentley, Inter-Sport, Zellers, and so on…you would think would hype it up and go the extra mile and decorate the place with more than a pumpkin or two and some cutout cats at the cash register. But nothing. 80% of the staff didn’t even bother donning a basic mask.

It is a race to the bottom in terms of how boring a lot of these companies (big and small) have become. And, it’s frustrating as an entrepreneur to see these huge opportunities lost (more so for the small retailer…yay for the underdog!) where one is being given the chance to stand out. Shut down the store for a day…Clear the sucker out…Turn your 1200 square feet into the scariest/funniest haunted house the likes of Faubourg de L’Ile has ever seen. You want buzz? You want word-of-mouth? Forgo your 1 day of sales and do something like this and I guarantee kids and parents alike are going to be coming in to ask you months ahead of next Halloween if you’ll be doing it again. Maybe they’ll even buy something. Maybe they’ll tell a friend.

One thing is for sure, there’s no single place that left an impression on me or my kids. Did your business take the opportunity to do something special? I’m kicking myself for not having done something special with ours. Maybe next year I’ll take my own advice…

Bring on Santa Baby!

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