(This column originally appeared in The Inquirer)
Valentine’s Day is next week, and a few very smart small-business owners in the Philadelphia area are already taking advantage of the occasion in all sorts of ways. Here are the things they’re doing to leverage the holiday.
Partner with others in the community
Fishtown-based Mural City Cellars — which calls itself Philadelphia’s first urban winery — makes high-quality, fruit-forward wines with grapes that are sourced from farmers within a 300-mile radius of the city. For owner Francesca Galarus, Valentine’s Day is a “wine holiday.”
“Especially coming off Dry January, people are ready to crack a bottle of bubbles with their partners and friends,” she said.
Galarus is doing what many small businesses do when a holiday comes up: using the occasion to partner with other businesses in the community. She’s providing the wine for a forthcoming event hosted by chef Ari Miller, the Hawaiian restaurant and sauce maker Poi Dog, and dinnerware provider Citrine at La Colombe. She’s also partnering with craft brewery Libertee Grounds for a special dinner and wine pairing.
“To succeed on Valentine’s Day — or any holiday — it’s important to pair up with other small businesses in your neighborhood (or even beyond) to leverage two different followings and find synergy, which can really connect with your guests,” Galarus said.
Host an event
Tricia Sheeler, the owner of Pilates studio Flip Dog Pilates in Doylestown, has created a special event around the theme of, what else, love.
The “self-love workshop” features a Pilates mat class complete with special exercises and flower making and bouquet arranging that focuses on promoting self-love and self-acceptance.
“By engaging with us on Valentine’s Day you can dedicate time to nurture and love yourself, both physically and mentally,” she said. “Valentine’s Day is a great time to learn how to foster self-love and practice better heart-health living.”
Extend the holiday
Chocolate Lab is a 21-year-old shop in Bethlehem, Pa., that makes gourmet chocolate mostly by hand and with little to no machinery. For chocolatier Erick Goins, Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day. It’s a weekslong event with special products geared to the occasion.
“Our themed Valentine’s Day items usually hit the shelves in the first week of February, and we spend the majority of the month making our made-to-order chocolate covered strawberries,” Goins said. “We participate in the Chocolate Trail, hosted by the city, an event that takes place on the two Saturdays surrounding Valentine’s Day, where people can sign up to indulge in chocolate tastings and chocolate-themed items from all over the city.”
Goins has also had success offering limited-edition flavors for the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
“For the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day we also feature special-edition red heart gift boxes of chocolates in both medium and large sizes, and offer a selection of seasonal flavored items, the most notable being our strawberry buttercreams,” Goins said. “Our advice is to truly lean into the cheesiness of the holiday for as long as possible and have fun with it!”
Customize your products to the holiday
If you stop by White Horse Coffee Roasters in Jenkintown between now and Valentine’s Day, you’ll see a few different items on the menu, all with a loving theme.
For example you can enjoy a “Berry Lovely Latte,” which is a strawberry white mocha, topped with whipped cream and heart-shaped sprinkles, or a “Cherry Cordial Sundae,” which is a twist of vanilla soft serve and cherry Dole Whip topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and heart-shaped sprinkles.
“We like to use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to focus on the coffee/cafe world,” said founder Jeanne Brillman. “We have a lot of fun coming up with themed drinks and specials, and customers love to come in to share a nice little coffee date with their special someone.”
Brillman said creating something new, unique, and memorable that connects to Valentine’s Day each year helps her profits even more than offering discounts.
“Not only are you attracting current and new customers this way, but you are also creating buzz and something that is worthy of them sharing on their social platforms and with their family and friends,” she said.
Offer a special promotion
But let’s not discount discounts. Special promotions based on a holiday can also be a great way to attract new customers and nurture existing ones.
Bibi Lash & Brow, a beauty salon in Fishtown specializing in eyelash extensions, lash lifts, and eyebrow shaping and lamination, is spreading the word on special promotions and discounts to bring in new customers with the focus being on … surprise … love!
The salon, which opened in September, will be celebrating its very first Valentine’s Day by offering discounts on certain services like lash extensions and lifts and conducting special promotions across their social channels, all with a loving theme.
“Valentine’s Day is not only about romantic love, but also about loving yourself,” says owner Izat Bibi. “Part of my business is helping women enhance their natural beauty and allowing them to indulge in a high-end service that makes them feel beautiful and confident. Valentine’s Day is a perfect holiday for my business.”