Halloween Tip-Or-Treat

For a holiday with $7.9 billion in consumer spending each year, a surprising number of restaurants and bars ignore Halloween. If you want your business to enjoy a piece of those earnings, you’re going to have to do more than just put up some fake spider webs. With a little planning and effort, you can put on a memorable Halloween event to draw in customers on and around the holiday.

Boost Halloween Sales

The very nature of Halloween means more people are out than usual, whether they are taking the kids trick-or-treating or going to a Halloween party. Additionally, beyond Halloween night itself, often the weekends before and after the holiday can provide opportunities for a little boost in traffic. Below are some ideas that could bring in extra business in the weeks leading up to Halloween:

  • Costume contests can be open to kids or adults, with prizes such as gift cards or goody bags. Be sure to specify in your advertising the age groups that are invited to compete. You might also consider art or pumpkin-carving contests.
  • Halloween-themed menu items can bring in new and regular customers alike. This can include seasonal flavors such as pumpkin and caramel, or you can simply rename your usual menu items with spooky names.
  • Offer a discount for customers who show up in costume to take advantage of increased traffic.
  • Provide treats for trick-or-treating kids, especially if your restaurant is in an area with high foot traffic.
  • Halloween parties allow you to combine several of the above ideas to create a festive atmosphere that encourages customers to linger in your business, which can increase appetizer and drink sales.
  • Extended hours might be worth considering for restaurants that normally close early in the evening. Families with children may be out later than usual, and you can catch a lot of dinner sales long after most kids are usually in bed.
  • Partner with other local businesses to offer unique experiences for your customers. Consider working with a local haunted attraction, corn maze, or ghost tour to offer discounts or contest prizes.

Knoxville Halloween Events

When it comes to making the most of Halloween, businesses in Knoxville, Tenn., have it down to an art. A lot of this is thanks to Scott West, the self-dubbed “Downtown Evangelist” for the Scruffy City entrepreneurial family. KaTom had the opportunity to speak with Scott about how he has built up the successful Halloween events on Market Square in Knoxville, known collectively as Scare on the Square.

“As far as Halloween, Halloween as well as every other festive day of the year (New Year’s Eve, St. Paddy’s Day, UT football weekends, etc.) was tumbleweeds blowing across the landscape when we started on historic Market Square in 2000,” Scott says. “As far as numbers of people, yes, they are going out for the big holidays and events. But, if your business doesn’t offer the best experience, they have countless other options for places in which to spend their money. In other words, you can’t just open and expect to be busy on Halloween or New Year’s Eve (remember those tumbleweeds blowing across Market Square I told you about).”

Halloween celebration at Scruffy City Hall

Some events, like the Knoxville Zombie Walk, are the result of a collaboration between multiple businesses. Events like that and the trick-or-treating that happens in Market Square on Halloween can benefit all the businesses in the area due to increased traffic.

Scott Partin, co-owner of The Tomato Head and Flour Head Bakery in Market Square, enjoys the crowd that the holiday brings out.

“Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids and their enthusiasm is infectious,” he says. “It’s great to see folks out trick-or-treating around downtown and in the square. We get to see so many fantastic costumes and happy families that it makes the day great for us as well as for them.”

Those who live in or will be visiting the Knoxville area around October 31 can find out more about local Halloween events through the calendar below.

Courtney Barkley
Courtney Barkley

Courtney Barkley has lived in nearly as many southeastern states as most Americans have probably visited, settling in East Tennessee in early 2013. She and her husband Thomas were married during ShadoCon 2012 – an anime, gaming, and comics convention – in a ceremony that featured a reading about dinosaurs in love from a friend dressed as Doctor Who. She spends her free time chasing her brilliant and imaginative son Nathan, hanging out with friends, binge-watching shows, playing video games, and keeping up with the characters of the Marvel Universe. And, any chance she gets, she sneaks off to Florida to visit friends and the happiest place on earth – Disney World.