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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published August 6, 2009                                                         

Merchants get creative to bring
in shoppers

  By Pamela Lannom

   Susie Duboe-Bryant loves to throw a party. And Hinsdale Furriers is a perfect spot.
   “Somebody said, ‘Oh my god — your floor is the perfect floor to dance on,’ ” Duboe-Bryant said. So she started Ladies Who Dance, a monthly party where she cleared away the furs and invited female friends to boogie to tunes of the 1950s through the ’80s.
   “There was no alcohol,” Duboe-Bryant clarified with a laugh. “Afterward we went to the Chinese restaurant (Jade Dragon) for dinner. It was just for fun.”
   Duboe-Bryant didn’t try to sell any furs during the five dance nights, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t help her business.
   “Customers come out for anything you do where you can build relationships with somebody, because business is based on relationships and trust,” she said. “Anything I do is marketing in some way, but the marketing I chose to do is because it’s fun.”
   A Christmas in July party offered customers a chance to buy two furs for the price of one and gave Duboe-Bryant another opportunity to enjoy herself.
   “It’s because we want to do something different and fun,” she said of the July 24-25 event.
   Several merchants in Hinsdale are offering special events to help bring customers into their stores.
   At Hinsdale Wine Shop, owner Sean Chaudhry and manager Craig Larsen came up with a new twist for a sale.
   “We had a bunch of stuff that was end of bin that we were saving to do on clearance,” Larsen said. People love garage sales, so Chaudhry suggested turning the clearance sale into just that. They posted garage sale signs outside the store and invited people in for deep discounts.
   “They’ve been going great,” Larsen said. “We got such a strong response for it that we decided to keep looking for quality wines that were on closeout from our vendors.”
   Barbara Budicak and Dina Peso, two of three owners of Twisted Between, also are taking advantage of a theme to promote in-store sales. Every Thursday night they offer drinks, snacks, and a chance to cool off in an air conditioned store to attendees at the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce Uniquely Thursday party in Burlington Park. Reduced prices also are part of the draw.
   “We all have children, so they go across (to the park) and hand out the fliers,” Budicak said.
   Every Saturday next door at Munchkin Land, owner Graceann Martin offers complimentary manicures and face painting for kids. She remembers one little girl who was so impressed with her freshly painted fingernails that she wanted to get her toes done as well.
   “I’ll never forget it,” Martin said. “She was so cute.”
   Trunk shows, a wine and cheese shopping night and other special promotions are scheduled at the store throughout the year.
   “I think it makes a difference,” she said. “People come in and say, ‘What do you have going on?’ ”
   Even offering the kids a cold drink on a hot day is a nice gesture, she said.
   “You’re a specialty store and you want people to know you appreciate them. It’s just what you do,” Martin said.
   Duboe-Bryant agreed.
   “I treat the store as my family, so therefore I treat my customers as my family and friends,” she said. “If you stay loyal to your customer base and you’re fair and honest, it’s reciprocated most of the time.”
   “The economy is going to turn around,” she added. “You’re seeing little signs of it now. It’s just a matter of people not panicking. Support your local stores — and merchants, support your local stores and give customers a reason to shop by you.”







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