Main Street Businesses Take Advantage of Summertime Events

Street Fairs are a valuable summertime promotion by many businesses that are situated within or adjacent to an event. Owners can experience record sales on event day and use it to build their customer bases. All businesses can increase awareness for their products and services as a result of the attention and publicity that a business district receives from a street fair.

Below are some tips to help you make the most of the day:

Take Your Business Outdoors – Many people come to a Street Fair but they may not go inside your business. Be prepared to attract people as they walk by setting up a booth or at least a table in front of your business to display sale merchandise, giveaways, promotional flyers or coupons. If your business is outside the area where the crowds and activities tend to be concentrated, consider teaming up with a more centrally located business.

Use interactive tricks, games or contests to draw people to your space. A classic “prize wheel” engages people, especially kids, bringing them into your world. Give out tokens, SWAG items, sweets and gift certificates dated for a month after the Fair. Get creative with kissing or photo booths, mind game puzzles, tongue twister competitions, bingo cards, poetry slams or imaginative colorful art projects. Try classic carnival games like balloon dartboards, duck ponds, bean bag tosses or hoop throws.

Contests or raffles create activity and prizes can be picked up at a later date. Contests are a natural way to collect customer contact information. Use online registration tools to let participants sign themselves up. Make a BIG noise when selecting winners. Post winners names and pictures on boards at your booth.

Restaurants and bars can take order outside then easily make the food in their own kitchens. Set up a lively, inviting outdoors patio with lots of shade (or umbrellas in case of rain) that provide a rest area for Fair-goers. Invite a singer-song writer to play her guitar for tips or hire a professional busker to entertain outdoor customers.

Make a Good Impression – A Street Fair is often the first impression new people have of an area. Make sure your storefront and sidewalk are clean and inviting. Have extra staff on hand. Provide water. Put out and maintain extra garbage containers. Make your restrooms available if possible. Run specials that continue through the next month to encourage customers to come back at a later time. Be a resource for the event. Provide information and directions about Fair activities and other businesses in the area.

Sponsor an Activity or Special Event – It might be hard to create your own distinct activity on Fair day. Offer to sponsor a display, demonstration, benefit, or entertainment activity. Your business name will be promoted long before the Fair on posters, flyers, websites and social media. People will remember your business supported the Fair and may choose you over others throughout the year. Promote your involvement on marketing materials at your business, through mailings and advertising.

Advertise – Cooperative advertising offers discounted promotions for businesses while attracting crowds. Even if you don’t participate in shared advertising, add Fair information to keep your ads fresh while supporting the Fair in your regular advertising. Participate in discounted group advertising offered by news magazines, papers and local community newspapers. Whether or not you advertise, put your business information on materials or merchandise that you hand out, sell, or give away on Fair day. Make sure that the new faces that come to the Fair know how to find you again.

Cater to Walkers and Bikers – Think about items you can offer that might appeal to Fair attendees and shoppers who are on foot or on bike. Promote small merchandise that is easy to carry. Give away coupons that will entice shoppers back to your business at a later time. Share quick and refreshing snacks and beverages. Provide reusable shopping bags with handles.

“Give Back” to the Community – Show gratitude to the customers and neighbors that support your business during the other 364 days of the year. In the month leading up to your big event, give “insider” passes or Good Neighbor Discounts to say “thank you” to the community that helps to make the area a vibrant business district, even when it’s not Fair day. Long-time customers will feel appreciated.


Read the comprehensive event planning guidebook by seasoned neighborhood business consultant, Bridget Bayer. Street Fairs for Community and Profit: How To Plan, Organize and Stage a Sensational Street Fair While Building Community is a nuts-and-bolts book that will especially help new groups in planning—and actually executing—a street fair. For experienced organizers, it will help them PROFIT from their event.

About Bridget Bayer

Bridget Bayer is an author and community organizer working to create vibrant main street business districts that support local economies. Bridget believes shared activities are a catalyst for positive change. Her professional work fosters community involvement by creating shared events that enhance communication, develop shared interests and support existing and start-up non-profit organizations. At home, Bridget focuses on innovative ecological practices, hates waste and dependably finds ways to eliminate it. After 25 years in the restaurant industry, she still loves to cook especially with locally sourced veggies including those homegrown from her garden. Bridget, the first mate on Ama Natura, lives on a floating home on the Columbia River in Portland with Peter Wilcox, instigator of the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project, and the lovely Luna, her favorite cat.