Shop Talk

Column: Cash in on the new school year

Some parents get practically giddy at the thought of a new school year.

And with a good idea and a solid plan, small-business owners can cash in on that excitement, as the start of the traditional school calendar has become the second-busiest retail season of the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, American families spend almost $75 billion getting their children ready to go back to school.

Clothing, electronics and school supplies make up the top three purchase categories this time of the year, but other businesses also can take advantage of the spending flurry.

Dr. Rose Boyd, owner of The Joint, a franchise chiropractic practice on Six Forks Road in North Raleigh, aims to remind parents that young bodies, not just minds, need to be prepared for the new school year.

So next week she’s offering a “backpack check” event that will teach parents and kids about distributing the weight of all those books and binders students carry on their backs.

“Many kids carry up to a quarter of their body weight in their backpacks,” Boyd said. “And if it isn’t worn properly, it can lead to headaches, neck and back pain and a host of other ailments.”

Chiropractic services may not be at the top of every family’s shopping list, but Boyd makes the connection to school because it’s a time of the year which many think of as a new beginning.

The backpack event is free, and designed to educate potential clients about the benefits of chiropractic care.

“As school starts and practices begin we see a host of new patients who want to participate in their activities at their top potential,” Boyd said.

Boyd is also combining back-to-school efforts with another small business – Fleet Feet Sports.

The running and walking shoe franchise, which is in the same shopping complex as The Joint, will be offering gait and fit assessment at a time when many kids are sporting new shoes.

The National Retail Federation also reports that the majority of back-to-school money is spent in August and not spread out over several months.

Lisa Bertrand, owner of three Fantastic Sam’s haircutting franchises in northern Wake County, runs back-to-school promotions throughout the month as a way to get customers in the door.

She is targeting different types of clients by splitting the month into two sale periods that include discounts on products and services such as shampoos, conditioners, hair coloring and kids’ haircuts, she said.

The back-to-school shopping season is obviously busy for retailers who sell blue jeans, laptops and notebook paper.

But any owner can think creatively about taking advantage of a retail season that’s practically become a holiday and collect a piece of the billions of dollars being spent.