Is your business located in a historically significant building or in a historically significant area? If so, why not leverage that fact to garner interest in your business and become a part of history in your community?
This tactic is pretty simple, but requires a little bit of homework. It’s great for new store openings as well.
Let’s say your building used to be an old warehouse at the turn of the century. That’s a neat fact, and your building is pretty old, but what else can you learn? A few questions to ask:
- What did the factory produce?
- Who owned it?
- Why is it important?
- What other businesses have been here?
- Did anything of historical remark happen in the building?
- What, if any, structural or architectural components are original?
Additionally, if you’re nearby a historical landmark (say, a certain statue or bridge), you’ll need to ask yourself some questions as well:
- When was the landmark built?
- Who built it?
- Why did they build it?
- What was happening in our neighborhood when it was built?
- What was the reaction to the landmark?
Once you start the research on your building or neighborhood, start with your local historical society, you’ll find the answers to these questions and probably more!
Before you create a little anecdote on your menu, or put up historical photos, you need to ensure that everyone on your team is well-versed in the history of the building. This includes managers, full-timers, part-timers, and holiday help. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a customer ask, “What’s this photo of?” or “What did this building used to be?” and have your part time employee say, “Um, I don’t know.”
Next, work with your city to find historical photos and information that can give your location additional background and texture. See if you can incorporate these photos into your decor, or the story of the building and neighborhood into “your story” on your website.
Paying homage to the past is a great way to make your place in the community, and it’s a fun way to set yourself apart from competitors!
Starbucks was opening its first store on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 2000. We knew the building was historic and with further research found out that it’s original use in 1900 was a coffee roaster. What a great coincidence! Working with the Historic Society of Washington, DC we got old photos and information we incorporated into the store design. We also used it as part of our Grand Opening Event…from invitations to charity partnership. The Historical Society was trying to get a historic Walking Tour kicked off and we gave the funding to needed to make it a reality! Then the Starbucks location was also the starting point for each walking tour thus driving traffic.