Businesses across Derry are being encouraged to avail of the unique business opportunity that the City’s Halloween festivities brings to the city, by attending a Halloween Business Engagement event in the Guildhall next week.
The event is being organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business team in an effort to encourage local businesses to maximise the opportunities that exist to increase footfall to their premises and promote their produce during the Halloween celebrations that are scheduled to take place from 26th October – 1st November.
The business engagement event will take place on Thursday 12 September at the Main Hall, Guildhall and is open to all businesses to attend.
One of the local well-established businesses that has benefitted from Halloween and the thousands of people that it brings to the city’s streets is the Sandwich Company who have embraced the festival and seen a very positive impact on sales.
Sandwich Company owner Paul McCole has over the past three years, introduced a number of innovative measures during Halloween to help drive sales and increase footfall. He says that with a bit of imagination other businesses can maximize the opportunities that Halloween brings.
“Over the past few years we have really embraced the Halloween festival and adapted our business to make the most of the event and the people that it brings into the city. We sell a large selection of Halloween themed cupcakes and tray-bakes and we have all of our premises decorated and shop windows painted with Halloween colours and adornments. We have extended our opening hours at our Bishop Street premises during the Awakening of the Walls celebrations and so that we are open when families are out and about on the Walls so there is somewhere warm and cosy for them to enjoy a hot chocolate and a tasty Halloween treat.
“Last year we had a musical horror style selfie booth on our Bishop Street premises and face painting which proved really popular with our younger customers as well as our programme of Halloween activities that we scheduled in the café over the festival that included storytellers, Halloween witches and Halloween characters performing in our event space.”
Encouraging other businesses to step up and take the initiative, Paul says it is amazing what you can achieve if you think outside the box.
“We have really seen the results of being imaginative and creative in the marketing of our cafes over the Halloween period. By providing what our customers want – Halloween themed family friendly activities and later opening times, we are seeing the benefits and customers are coming back year after year. Last year we were featured on the Awakening the Walls programme trail which was hugely beneficial in signposting people to our café and we are currently looking at other ways in which we can attract more customers over that period.”
Paul acknowledges the importance of Halloween to the city and says its important businesses recognise the opportunity it provides for them too.
“Basically the Halloween festival brings tens of thousands of people onto our streets and it is really important we as business people do all we can to enhance their experience of our city centre by providing them with services and activities they want and expect. The Council is doing all it can by providing the spectacle of the Awakening of the Walls and the Carnival Parade and Fireworks and with the work they are doing to market and promote the city, we can all do our bit by looking at how we can adapt our businesses to fit in with the whole Halloween theme.”
The Sandwich Company, which has four outlets across the city and seven across the North West, has been in business since 1991 offering high quality sandwich fillings and bakes as well as outside catering. Their newest outlet is located along the Quay close to the Council offices and while it will most certainly have its opening hour extended over the Halloween period, Paul is still looking at opportunities for maximising footfall for the café over that period.
“We are at a great location here right along the Quay for the Halloween night celebrations and we will be doing all we can to be open for customers and in addition to providing top quality coffee, sandwiches and bakes. We will be looking at doing something pretty spooktacular on the Quay to ensure our customers have an enjoyable and memorable experience.”
Encouraging businesses to attend the Halloween Business Engagement event next Thursday at the Guildhall, Paul says it is a great way of finding out about the festival and the opportunities that exist for businesses.
He said: “It is your chance to put your own mark on Halloween and to allow you to think outside the box and allow your business to embrace new ideas. It has taken us a few years to do this but with a positive attitude, getting your staff on board and a little imagination it can be achieved and we are really looking forward to this Halloween and another successful festival.”
Laverne O’Donnell from the Business team at Derry City and Strabane District Council says in addition to providing support and advice to businesses wishing to be part of the celebrations the Halloween Business Engagement event is important in terms of informing businesses of the traffic management arrangements and road closures planned.
It is also an opportunity for businesses interested in taking part in the planned food market to take part and to engage with other businesses on how they have benefited from the festival.
The Halloween Business Engagement Event takes place on Thursday 12 September from 10am to 11.30am at the Main Hall, Guildhall. Businesses interested in attending the event are urged to register in advance at http://derryhalloween.com/engage.