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Holding a going-out-of-business sale as you get ready to close your business’s doors is no fun, but such a sale can get rid of inventory, shelving and fixtures and bring in some money. The key is to avoid announcing the sale too early at steep discounts; your competitors may swoop in and buy all your best-selling items when you could have made a bit more money off them with careful planning.
Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws on holding this type of sale. For instance, in Ohio, you cannot call the sale a going-out-of-business sale if you plan to reopen the business within 12 months of the sale.
Create inexpensive, colorful signs for your doors and windows that say you’re going out of business and how much shoppers can save. This attracts buyers looking for a deal.
Stagger the sales offering to keep competitors from buying all your good stuff on the first day of the sale. For instance, if you plan to run your sale for two months, offer the lowest discount, such as 10 percent off retail prices, during the first month. Then, gradually increase the discounts as the sale comes to a close.
Send a flyer to your current customer base. Offer these loyal customers a bigger discount than you offer the public.
Inform everyone you know about the upcoming sale. Hand out flyers a week before the sale starts. Take piles of the flyers to nearby businesses and ask them to hand them out to their customers. Place an ad in the local paper about a week before the sale starts. Post about the sale on your website and on your social media pages to encourage people to stop by.
Place a final ad in local papers the last week of the sale if you still have stuff to sell. Use the ad to explain the heavy discounts you are offering to get rid of everything.
Instead of putting out all your best inventory the first week of the sale, keep some in the back. Then add some of the good products to your shelves each week. This helps shoppers feel confident that the best stuff isn’t gone already, and they’ll keep coming back to see what else is available.
While selling your shelving, display cases and other fixtures brings in money, don’t let buyers remove them immediately upon purchase. If you do, you won’t have the space to display your final inventory. Instead, put a “Sold” sign on the fixtures. Then, ask the buyers to come in at the end of the sale to remove the items they bought.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.