10 Great In-store Marketing Events for Small Businesses

  • 6 Min Read

Running a brick-and-mortar store of any kind is no cakewalk, and businesses in the pet-care industry have the unique challenge of convincing customers their products will keep their four-legged friends happy and healthy. With so many giant box stores offering similar pet-care products, how can you make your small business stand out? 

The key to making your small business stand out (and ultimately increase sales) is to find a way to boost foot traffic. If you can attract customers to your physical store, they may be more likely to return or make a purchase. According to a report from Mood Media, 59% of customers prefer shopping in stores where they can touch, feel, and try products. 

So, how can you convince potential customers (and their four-legged friends) to come into your store? For many businesses, the answer is hosting events and other in-store opportunities to engage with customers. 

What are In-store Events?

In-store retail events give stores the opportunity to showcase products, form a community around their consumer base, and strengthen their brand image. Like any other of your marketing campaigns, it should be centered around your consumer base. You already know your target audience adores their pets — think about how you can tailor an in-store experience to passionate pet owners. 

Sometimes the tricky part of planning an in-store event can be matching what your consumers want to what you want as the business owner. Your strategy for matching the two will depend on the type of event you choose to host. 

The three most popular types of events are meetup groups, workshops and classes, and launch parties. Let’s dive into the specifics of each of these events and their uses. 


Meetup groups are always a great way to find and form friendships with people with common interests. Plus, they are an effective (and often free) way to bring a community of pet lovers together in your store. 

Because the event is recurring, it allows the public to build a lasting relationship with you and your pet store. Next time they need to purchase a pet product, your business will be the first to pop into their minds. Organizing and hosting meet-ups signals to your consumers that you aren’t just selling products; you’re a community resource that loves pets just as much as they do. 

Workshops and Classes

This type of event is similar to meetups in that they may meet on a recurring basis, but the goal of workshops and classes is educational rather than social. Tricks aren’t just for dogs — their humans want to learn, too! 

Workshops and classes help teach pet owners valuable skills in obedience training, pet first aid, and general care. By hosting an educational event, your consumer base will see your business as a trusted source of information. 

Launch Parties

If you’re going to be dropping something new in store soon, a launch party is an effective way to generate more buzz around your new products. You can host the party before your new products or collection drops and invite your most loyal customers. If your new product was created locally with another small business, invite them too so they can speak about their craft! 

The goal of a launch party is to create excitement and a sense of exclusivity among your customers. Who doesn’t like getting invited to a party? Although many in-store events fall into one of these three categories, you can always think outside of the box! 

10 Brilliant Marketing Event Ideas for Pet Stores

Here are 10 event ideas perfect for your independent pet store. Promotional, educational, and outreach events are all included in this list, with a few thrown in just for fun! 

1. Dog Breed Meetup

The world of dog breeds is always changing and growing. Many pet owners are especially interested in one specific breed of dog and their specialized care. Open up your store to retrievers one week, then welcome in greyhounds the next! 

You can sweeten the pot by giving out free samples or coupons to customers who bring in their breed-specific dog to shop on the day of the meetup. Encourage them to stick around or stop by later to meet other dogs of the same breed! You can choose some of the most popular breeds in your area and rotate weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

2. Pet Adoption Day

National Pet Adoption Day falls on April 30. We believe pet adoption should be celebrated all year long, but recognizing the holiday does help spread awareness for the importance of pet adoption — and it can also help your pet store get more customers! Host a live adoption event at your store by partnering with local shelters. To further incentivize adoptions at your indie store, you can partner with Astro Loyalty’s Sharing the Love program, which hooks new pet owners up with free artisanal food, treats, and supplies! 

3. Charity Partnership

Partner with local animal shelters or welfare organizations by promoting a special day where in-person purchases will go towards a monetary donation towards a good cause. This is a thoughtful way to give back to your community and make your customers feel good about shopping at your store. Bring increased awareness to your fundraising efforts by reaching out to local influencers in your industry and asking them to start spreading the word.

4. Small Business Saturday Marketing

Small Business Saturday takes place each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it’s a big opportunity to draw in record numbers of customers. Smaller retailers don’t have the advantage huge stores do of being able to offer steep discounts, but there are ways you can attract customers.

Show your appreciation to them for shopping small by giving out free raffle entries, samples, and small freebies. Encourage new shoppers to join your Facebook page or sign up for your newsletter. 

5. Puppy Training Workshops

Puppies are a challenge— an adorable, fuzzy challenge, but a challenge none the less. Partner with a dog behavior expert or a puppy trainer to help teach new owners how to train and care for them. You can also recom

6. Pet of the Week/Month

Here’s a chance for you to merge your online marketing with in-person. Why not try running a social media contest? Have your social media followers submit their pet photos with a funny caption for a chance to be the pet of the week or month. The winner gets their pet’s picture featured in your store and a gift certificate to your store. 

Make sure to put the pet of the week somewhere in your store where a customer might see it and get inspired to follow your account and submit their own pet for the contest! 

7. Pawpurrazzi

Set up a photo booth in your store where pets can have their pictures taken! This also could be a fun seasonal event — try hosting an ugly Christmas sweater or a Halloween costume photoshoot! Raise the stakes by making it a contest.

8. Customer Appreciation Day

Customer Appreciation Day is on May 19. This national holiday is a great way to say “thank you” to your frequent shoppers! Let your loyal customers know how much you appreciate them with personalized emails, notes, or even just a heartfelt verbal thank you. You can also do in-store promotions like coupons for repeated purchases. If you use Astro Loyalty, you can also inform customers about your Astro frequent buyer programs, saving them even more money! 

9. Paint-a-Pet

Grab some easels, paints, and brushes and organize a Paint-a-Pet session! Provide painting supplies such as easels, canvas, paints, brushes, and a palette to each attendee for this event and charge a small fee to cover the costs. Or, have painters bring their own supplies. Having a painting of one’s pet is a nice keepsake. Kids can join in on the fun too! 

10. Pawlympics

Host your very own dog Olympics and send out email invitations to get other dog owners to join the event! Incorporate dog tricks and training to create different competitions for dogs and their owners, such as bobbing for biscuits, frisbee contests, or tug-of-war! Make sure you keep the event fun and low-pressure; it’s less about winning and more about having fun. 

Ultimately, you have a ton of options when it comes to in-store marketing events. However you go about organizing events, you’ll be sure to get the attention of your consumer base and help your independent pet store thrive. Astro Loyalty is all about empowering independent stores. For more guidance on how to help your business succeed, check out more of our blog.

About The Author

Katherine Carbonaro Kat lives in a spooky house surrounded by farmland in Hillsborough, NC, and couldn't be happier! Her two beloved cats, MeNow and Mr. Bumbles were both bottle-fed and raised by her. Huxley, her faithful companion, is estimated to be around 16 years old but still enjoys his daily mile-long walks and occasional hikes, a testament to the power of proper nutrition. Long live Neighborhood Pet!