Outdoor Markets Offer Sales at Safe Distance:

With holiday sales on our doorstep, local retailers, artists, and independent makers are setting up shop for the winter frenzy.  However, COVID-19 safety concerns require a redesigned customer experience.  Luckily for shoppers who enjoy the treasure hunt, finding an unusual buy on sidewalks, patios, and in pop-up markets offers comfort for winter shopping. And for shop owners in need of branded safety signage, Banner Sign Co. has you covered.

Window Graphic Black Friday
Window Graphics

Sidewalk Sales and Winter Villages

Sidewalk sales have been a draw for fashion seekers, bargain hunters, and impulse buyers since the beginning days of sidewalks. However, outdoor markets of glass huts and clear vinyl tents have elevated this mutual convenience shared between shops and shoppers. Winter market pop-ups offer warmth with the added importance of safely spacing shoppers apart with limited indoor capacity.  Whether a couple racks on a storefront sidewalk or an enclosed shopping hut in a park, these small outdoor shopping displays are eye-catching, without the anxiety larger stores may provide.

While COVID-19 remains a concern, masked, distanced, and sanitized shops may consider outdoor sales following these recommendations:

Check Permitting Requirements:

There’s no bigger buzzkill to customer service than a shop getting cited and closed.  Many local governments require a permit for events and signs in the public right-of-way.  During the COVID-19 outbreak, however, municipalities such as Hamtramck, Michigan suspended sidewalk sale permit requirements, allowing stores to compensate for indoor capacity limits.

In The City of Detroit, the Department of Public Works provides guidance for event permitting. If you’re a retailer:

“…the first two feet away from the building can be used…” without obtaining a permit, but, “…if more than two feet are used, a permit is required from BSEED (Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department)”.

You may need a permit for signage, too.  The City of Detroit requires a permit pulled by a registered sign professional for permanent and temporary signage, especially if mounted in a pedestrian right-of-way. Contact us for permitting info.

Cr: Artificial Photography on Unsplash


Spread the Word (Not the Virus):

Start spreading the word a couple weeks in advance using every means of communication at your disposal.  Social media alone won’t inform people who avoid the internet for lack of interest or their mental health.  Print a few posters and signs, distribute postcards and flyers, or write a song about your love of sidewalks and post it online to go viral.  Adversity is one of the best motivators for creative solutions; necessity is the mother of invention and often innovation.

Consider Residents’ Schedules:

Four a.m. on Monday is not a prime hour for shoppers.  While COVID-19 is driving economic uncertainty, businesses must still welcome customers seeking goods and services.  A two-hour sale for seniors and others who are especially vulnerable to coronavirus is a gesture which shows your appreciation for peoples’ individual needs.  An evening sale might appeal to those who work a typical nine-to-five.  Showing awareness of customers’ schedules makes them aware you understand their daily lives, and if you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to confide in your customers.


Set the mood for shoppers with music and ambience.  Serve individual refreshments and fire up portable heaters.  Hire a DJ, live band, catering service, but not clowns (sorry clowns).  Reassure customers that you’re the place for them with an experience that shows common interests and understanding of their comfort and wellbeing.  In a clown store, this might mean clowns.

Holiday A-Frame

Internet Sidewalks:

Imagination on the internet is limitless.  Having a digital “sidewalk sale” offers goods outside of the brick-and-mortar model, which is great for shops without a physical location.  Let customers take advantage of deals from your shop’s online “sidewalk,” and offer incentives, like local business gift cards for joining a mailing list or shipping deals after spending a certain amount.  More than ever, with the unfortunate circumstances of COVID to consider, people are working and shopping online.


If you’re a shop owner, assess the overall sale for what worked and what did not.  Business owners must always consider whether strategy, environment, or personal limitations might restrict future events and the overall customer experience.  Likewise, customers should not shy away from offering their constructive input.  Always rely on customer feedback through on-site or online surveys, requesting open opinions about customer likes and dislikes.  In business, awareness that an issue exists offers the chance to think outside the box and create a better overall experience.

Looking for signage and window graphics for the upcoming season?  Do you enjoy shopping from home, or are you energized by seeing and feeling an item in person?  Let us know where you’ll be shopping below, and call us for your signs and graphics.

Cr: Osman Rana on Unsplash

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