For the past two years, hundreds of people have attended Lynn Grushka’s annual summer event ─ Shopping Under the Stars. The event is held in London, Ontario. It is so popular, there is a wait list for the vendors. Vendors are hoping there will be a cancellation as they know this is the event to sell their products.
I’m thrilled to be able to talk to Lynn and welcome her as my Guest Q&A today.
What is Shopping Under the Stars?
Shopping Under the Stars is a fun multi-vendor shopping event that I host in my backyard on a summer evening.
This is the third year you’re hosting Shopping Under the Stars. What was your inspiration for starting it?
It began two years ago with a couple friends and I hosting a fun customer appreciation evening. It started as a fun way to share the products that we love with our customers, while introducing them to other products and business owners that we love and trust. It was such a big hit for everyone ─ both vendors and customers really enjoyed the evening. Throughout the first year, I had many customers asking me if I would host it again and when the next one would be. I decided to make it even bigger and add more fun the second year. So last summer we expanded the event to other local businesses. It went from seven businesses the first year to 24 last summer. This year I’ve stepped it up even more.
Every year, money raised from Shopping Under the Stars is donated to a charity of your choice. How do you decide which charity to donate to?
I just follow my heart. The first year we decided as a group to give back a percentage of the sales to the Women’s Community House. Last year we collected donations from vendors and customers for the Food Bank. This year will be a little different. Each year ENJO Consultants choose a different charity to fundraise for during the year. This past year the ENJO team donated over $88,000 in products and money fundraised for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. In June, I attended our Leaders’ Conference where the ENJO CCC (Consultant Charity Choice) was voted on for the coming year. I’m really excited about the charity chosen and I thought how fitting to start my fundraising this year through Shopping Under the Stars. All net proceeds from the combined vendor and swag bag sponsor fees, and ticket sales will be donated to the CCC. This year I’m inviting local businesses to contribute to the swag bags and help us raise more money for the CCC. I just avoid doubling business types in the event and swag bags to make it fair to the vendors and advertisers.
Which charity did you select for 2013?
Since the charity of choice (ENJO CCC) will be announced at our National Conference this September, I’m not able to give away the secret yet. So you’ll have to wait until September 15th to hear that big announcement. I’ll be sure to post that news on my Facebook page.
For anyone who has never attended Shopping Under the Stars, what can they expect?
A really fun evening of shopping with an awesome variety of products from popular direct selling/party brands to many local businesses that make their own products mostly right here in the London area. I take great care in choosing which businesses will get one of the booth spaces at my event to ensure, not only the best variety of products, but a good balance between “party” businesses and unique local products. They can also expect some terrific live entertainment. Back by popular demand, I’ve booked The Golden Harps Steel Orchestra to perform from 6pm to 9pm. Attendees are welcome to bring their lawn chairs and just sit around and enjoy the beautiful Caribbean sound of steel drums. I’ve also hired Elite Catering this year, so they can expect to enjoy some delicious hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening. Also this year, the first 300 people to arrive will receive a swag bag filled with goodies. And as always, they can expect lots of door prizes, as each vendor is contributing a door prize to the table ─ that’s 26 door prizes each valued at a minimum of $25. Vendors will all set up under big tents provided by Two Men and a Tent so that in case of rain, the event can go on.
Has social media made a difference with Shopping Under the Stars?
Absolutely. Facebook is great for getting the word out about our event. It also makes it so much easier for all the vendors to share the event info with their customers. In the past we would spread the word through our e-mail newsletters, handing out postcards and word-of-mouth. We’re still using those methods, however using Facebook makes it so much more interactive and has become a primary medium for advertising the event. On Facebook we can post updates about what vendors are joining the event and in the weeks before, we’ll also be able to communicate easily to the public any specials or promotions that vendors will have, as well as the payment methods they’ll be accepting. Facebook was also a huge resource to help me find new unique local products that I didn’t even know were out there and enabled me to fill all the booth spaces with different products. And on August 12th, I’ll be able to share these terrific products, many of which, I’m sure some attendees have never even heard of.
You use social media every day as an independent consultant for ENJO. What advice would you give someone who is unsure if social media might work for their business?
I would say, you need to be on social media and make sure to commit to it. It’s not enough to just have a page. You need to be interacting with your fans on a daily basis. From someone who does a lot of “shopping” now through Facebook, I find it very discouraging when I’m looking for a product and that business doesn’t have a page. With 3 kids at home, I’ve stopped going to the malls for shopping. For me, the fun is doing the shopping from the comfort of my home and whether it’s a local business, or products that have to be shipped from further away, I like giving my business to people that connect with their customers. From a business standpoint, I love connecting with my customers and Facebook fans on a daily basis. We all have very busy schedules and sometimes it’s tough to catch my customers at home by phone when it’s convenient for both of us. Facebook allows me to connect with those customers that want to be reached, but are not always home to do so. Superior customer service is something that I strive for and social media gives me that flexibility to connect with my customers on a more personal level and to get to know them better on a more regular basis. My customers are not just another number on my books, many of them have become good friends. I truly value their loyal business, friendship and commitment to going chemical-free in their homes and workplaces. Social media definitely helps you get to that next level of business.
Where can people get more information about Shopping Under the Stars and do they need to purchase tickets in advance?
The best place to get more information about Shopping Under the Stars is on our Facebook event page. The event will take place August 12th. Tickets are only $5 and can be purchased through me or through some of the vendors that have tickets in hand. Tickets don’t have to be purchased in advance, however I’m holding an early bird draw to encourage early tickets sales. Knowing how many people will be attending gives me a better idea of how much food we need to order. Anyone that purchases a ticket prior to July 29th will be entered into a draw for a free ENJO Glove ($49 value).
Lynn Grushka is a mother of three young children and an Independent Sales Consultant with ENJO. She is also the host of Shopping Under the Stars. You can contact Lynn directly by email at email@example.com or by phone 519-859-2508.