How to Compete on Black Friday Weekend

Summer NAMM 2013 kicked off with the NAMM Retail Summit. The session looked at ways music retailers can supercharge their fourth quarter and holiday season. In this segment, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond spoke with Gabriel O'Brien of Larry's Music Center and Chris Johnson of Musician's SuperStore. These retailers have successfully competed against national retailers on Black Friday but take opposite approaches.

O'Brien's store makes a pre-emptive strike on Black Friday by hosting a sale throughout the month of November. Last year, this resulted in his company's best November to date.

"The idea was to encourage people to come out to see us every Friday and get our Black Friday sale prices every Friday for the whole month of November," he said. "Then, we would get those sales first.

"We call it anti-Black Friday. We run it all month long. We put it on our website, on our Facebook [page]. We do some radio and print. We have a giant sign outside of our store that's already paid for.

"Again, if you get those holiday dollars before people have a chance to spend them at other places on Black Friday, they're yours.

"Since so much stuff is moving out, your staff is energized, and your store is more organized and looking better because you constantly have to move things around. It's that much nicer for everyone that's coming in."

Johnson went head to head with national retailers on the big sales day. He opened his store early, offered door-buster deals, and promoted the event with catalogs and direct mail. His reasoning? "I think we all underestimate how much our customers like to come to our stores.

"We give away free T-shirts, $5 guitar stands. We do all kinds of crazy things to try to get the customer into the store on Black Friday. We open at 8 in the morning.

"We did two weeks of cable TV advertising prior to the promotion. We do email broadcasts, which we do every weekend prior to that. And then our direct-mail piece … we try to get it to hit the Tuesday or the Wednesday before because our hope is that people are sitting at home with our catalog on Thanksgiving or the day before looking at it, going, 'OK, I've got to get in there on Friday.'

"We find that customers come in based on our catalog and our deals on Black Friday. It's a huge traffic-builder for us. It's great for employee morale to get the season kicked off. This year, we actually moved our store to a new location, and we held the grand opening on Black Friday, which was great for us. We had 75–80 people lined up at 8 in the morning to come in and check out the instruments.

"We also noticed that we have a lot of customers who come in over that weekend basically taking a break from their other shopping.

"We get big sales that weekend, and it also gives our customers an opportunity to shop for products that maybe they're not going to buy but somebody else is going to come back and buy for them a couple days later."