The New York Times:

The owner of a futon store outside San Francisco started running comedy shows. A comic book shop in Florida held art shows. And a lingerie shop in New Mexico is planning a men’s night later this month.

Small businesses are always searching for ways to differentiate themselves. But with fewer people out buying, some of the businesses are doing whatever they think will draw in customers.

“This is a buyer’s strike,” said Eric G. Flamholtz, a professor emeritus of management at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. “People are holding back and not spending any money. So you have to give them a reason to come.”

Holding special events also can be far less expensive than regular advertising. And in a slowing economy, advertising and marketing budgets typically get trimmed. A recent National Small Business Association survey of its members found that 49 percent planned to start new advertising or marketing this year, down from 54 percent in 2007.

“They’re trying to market with little or no extra money,” said Molly Brogan, the association’s vice president of public affairs. “People are doing more on the Internet, any free thing they can.”

Photo by tristanbrand.

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