Cold weather calls for nesting — preferably in warm, cozy duds. Mindful that people treasure personal comfort, the owners of Madeline’s Flowers in Edmond, Oklahoma, came up with a fun concept to kick off their holiday shopping season: a pajama party.
The party, Friday, Nov. 16, immediately precedes the shop’s annual “Holiday Extravaganza,” a major sale on giftware including holiday décor, holiday shirts, jewelry, candles and gourmet products. In years past, Madeline’s Flowers has had hundreds of shoppers, said Lenzee Bilke, who co-owns the shop with her mother, Barbara, and twin sister, Lacee. “Last year, we had a Facebook Live video of us in elf pajamas for the Extravaganza, which had a great response,” she explained. That got them thinking: Why not invite customers to come in a night early to shop in their PJs?
Along with early access to merchandise, party guests will enjoy tasty treats (a hot cocoa bar, fudge, chocolate-covered cranberries, wine and miscellaneous gourmet refreshments) and prizes. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door, which benefit a local animal sanctuary. The first 30 people to reserve their spot will receive a swag bag too. (At press time, the Bilkes had sold more than 50 tickets.)
The event strategically falls before Thanksgiving weekend. The Bilkes take advantage of having a rapt crowd by offering discounts on pre-orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas centerpieces, a tactic that consistently boosts sales the following week and month.
The Bilkes decided to add a charitable element to the pajama preview party because they appreciate what the shelter does for their community and they know customers love contributing to a good cause. “We’re so fortunate to be in business so long that we want to give back to our community,” Bilke said. “We’re here because of customers and community, and this is a way to thank them and give back.”
Is a holiday party in your year-end to-do list? Here are some of the Bilkes’ pointers:
Be conscious of timing. Bilke and her vendor partners (a mother-daughter jewelry team and a local wine company) schedule their event just before the holiday season officially starts. The party gets customers thinking about Thanksgiving centerpieces (sales that are far from automatic) and entices them to pre-order for Christmas as well.
Give away some goods. The Bilkes make sure customers get their $20 (or $25) worth by providing refreshments, discounts and swag bags containing merchandise from local businesses. When attendees come in for your event, surprise them with something special to commemorate the experience.
Listen to your followers. A light-hearted Facebook Live video, posted while wearing elf pajamas, proved that Madeline’s Flowers fans loved the cute, casual garb —sparking the idea to invite them to join in the next year. Seize opportunities to involve your customers in your team’s fun, and don’t be afraid to show your goofy side.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.