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One Great Thing I Did Last Year (That You Can Do This Year): Build More Community Relationships |  April 01, 2015 (0 comments)


Merrick, NY—In our ongoing series titled One Great Thing I Did Last Year (That You Can Do This Year)," The Centurion asks retailers to tell us about one outstanding thing they did in 2014 that turned out really well. This week, Julie Thom of Von Bargen's, with four locations in Vermont and New Hampshire, shares her thoughts.

" I would say that one of our successes over this past year has been hosting intimate, private events," said Thom. "Each private event was targeted towards a different group. Our team had spent the prior year participating in the community and building relationships with people in these different groups, which was helpful in encouraging attendance and enthusiasm."

Thom used these events and the relationships behind them in her current stores and also to open Von Bargen's new location in Stowe, VT (top).  For the new location, Thom held a number of events leading up to the opening of the Stowe location.

Julie Thom

"Each event was well attended and created great word of mouth in the community. It made our Opening more like a gathering of friends than a gathering of strangers. Our business is a relationship business so these opportunities for intimate gatherings give us the chance to develop our network of brand ambassadors and build word of mouth for our business."

Directly prior to the opening, Von Bargen's hosted three smaller but important functions to build interest in the business overall and to drive attendance at the Grand Opening. The  jeweler hosted the Chamber [of Commerce], the Stowe Area Association (which is the downtown support and marketing group), and a connected group of women clients for a private event, says Thom. 

"All were very successful and well attended and gave us, as owners, and our teams the opportunity to meet and connect with other people and business leaders."

The strategy also helped two Von Bargen's executives new to the area integrate themselves into the community more quickly. Together with the manager of Von Bargen's Stratton store, they attended a variety of events for different community groups, often donating items for auctions and other fundraisers. Further cementing their goodwill in their respective communities, the team frequently asked clients to suggest nonprofit, community, and art groups they should get involved with.

See The Centurion's retailer profile on Von Bargen's for more background. Click to view other "One Great Thing" stories in our series: Rethink Your Store Hours; Hire Help for the Busywork; Handwrite Invitations

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