January 9


Tourist Based Retailing (TBR)

By Jana Hassett

January 9, 2021

Small Business

TBR – How and Why It’s Different

Why TBR is Different

First, let’s talk about why TBR is different.  The major difference is in where your customers live.  Locals may visit a couple of times during the travel season in your area, bringing out-of-town family and friends to your store.  But most of your customers will not be seen again  thus you have one chance to make a great impression, and sell your goods to them.

How Your Store Is Different

Many times a day you’ll need to spend time with each customer that enters your store.  Let them know if they have any questions or need help to just ask.  Or if they are looking for anything specific.  Many times these shoppers are looking for a thank you gift to take back for the dog sitter, house sitter, or mail attendee.  Some will be looking for something that will remind them of their adventure.  Other times they will be seeking a certain item for their collections.

Travelors collect a number of different types of memorabilia.  Consider stocking:

  • Shot glasses
  • Key Chains
  • Wine Glasses
  • Mugs
  • Hats and more.

All of these items should have some engraving/stamping on them for the local attractions.  For Cedar City that should include:

  • Old Iron Town
  • Parowan Gap
  • Kanarraville Falls
  • Cedar Breaks
  • Rock Church
  • And many others that fit your niche

Keep a list at your register (in your business journal) of items requested.  You can also use it as an opportunity to get their name and email to connect them with your catalog and newsletter (assuming you have one).  If you don’t want to fool with slips of paper, try business cards or a guest register.  We kept a register with space for name/city-state or Country/and their email.  It was always fun to look back at year end to see where they came from.

One year I wrote a blog post about a neighboring town and what tourists might find interesting to see.  It resulted in a number of their residents becoming our customers and bringing their visitors to our store.

Be Knowledgeable

Aside from collectors, your customer base will be people on vacation, a leisure day-trip or out on business.  One successful approach is to group/sell items by niche.  If your store is based on a niche (like a Rock Shop) think about all the sub-niches you can display. 

You and your staff need to be able to explain what you carry and why.  So be sure your niche is your passion and you can share details about what you offer.  If they inquire about a place, be sure you can provide correct and current information about the place.  Sending them to the visitor center won’t get you a visit and purchase on their way out of the area. Mot times it leads to them driving on.

Inventory Selections

Try to have inventory other local retailers do not.  Some things will overlap, but the way you display inventory and the product mix will set your store apart. 

Make sure you invite the visitors center staff to your store so they can learn what you sell.  They have hundreds of visitors each year and their referrals are priceless.

Be sure you have a rack card at the visitors’ center so they have something to hand out that shows your product line, your location and your Facebook Page (you do have one don’t you?).  Hire someone to create a professional card and be sure your photos are tack sharp.  Place them around town at other local shops that will allow their display.  The visitor may not have gone to the visitors’ center but may read about you while they dine.  Table tents are a great way to share the space with the diner.  Provide the tents with your info on two sides (they are triangular) and the diners on the third side.  You pay for the tent card, the diner displays them.  (Don’t forget to include the costs in your annual budget).


These are the basics of writing your annual business plan.

  • Your place of business costs.
  • Inventory
  • Display props
  • Printing – business cards/rack cards
  • Reference Maps for guiding your guests
  • Internet Services – website, Facebook Page, etc.

And don’t forget how important regular business hours are.  The visitor is there – they don’t care what day it is, time it is or whether you had to run to the bank.  Be sure you have posted hours both on the store and on line and be open when you say you will.  If you aren’t open evenings and Sunday, let them book an appointment with you.  They may end up being your best customer ever.

Questions?  Post a comment below.

Until next time - - - -

Jana Hassett

About the author

Retired Congressional Aide, Coach, Mentor and Grant Writer, Jana advocates for everyone having an elevator speech. She currently serves as Business Coach for the Ms. Biz program at the Women's Business Center of Utah, Cedar City. She's been writing blogs since 2006 and enjoys journaling.
"Passing It On" is her WHY, in honor of all those that mentored and guided her journery over the years.

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