Last Saturday I dropped off my girlfriend at a local bike and ski shop for its "ladies night" event. I was shocked to count 50 cars in the parking lot. This shop is in a town of 2,500 people, not a large city. I'd seen other bike shops do similar events, but hadn't thought much about them until now. They seem to be a great way to increase bike and ski shop sales to women. This shop served hors devours, wine (a key ingredient), and had sales going on in a very casual format.
There don't appear to be many drawbacks for a bike shop to try one of these events. And it's not rocket science. An evening format seems to work best--probably on a weekend. Serving wine and good food also helps. Basically, it's a shopping party not unlike a Tupperware back in the day. Some shops bring in product representatives to provide samples or product demos. This particular event had ties to a couple local charities. Either a portion of the proceeds went to a charity or they accepted donations to those charities. Promoting the event can be a piece of cake. With social media as common as it is, a bike and ski shop wouldn't have to spend a dime on advertising--Facebook events are easy and free to create, and an email campaign to your existing contacts involves little more than your time.
Keep in mind, if you try out one of these events, that most well-written insurance policies provide Host Liquor Liability coverage. This coverage is key when serving alcohol because it is designed to protect you against a claim involving someone who was "over-served" and gets into an accident with bodily injury. This applies only when the alcohol served is free. If you charge for the alcohol, additional coverage called Liquor Liability should be purchased.
I'm not a shop owner, and most of what I learn is by observing what hundreds of other shops are doing. Hosting events are a great way to help increase bike and ski shop sales and attract new customers. This specific type of event seems like a super-effective way to do just that...and have a blast!