Welcome to your digital Winter Survival Guide!

We are excited to bring some holiday magic to the avenue through lights, art activations, and special events like our annual Winter Whyte Light Up. This page will be your hub for holiday updates & campaign information. We suggest you keep this bookmarked and check back often for up-to-date info!

We’re here! Our team is available to support any of your marketing, communication, or operational efforts! Please reach out to either Alanna or Jeff anytime with ideas, suggestions, or project opportunities and we’ll help facilitate any involvement of the OSBA or collaboration with other businesses. And follow along on our social for more holiday content & event announcements!

SETTING THE STAGE

We’re working again with Five Star Lighting to beautify the area with holiday lights. McIntyre Park will be lit with colorful mega trees and the gazebo will shine bright as usual! Our seasonal greenery is provided by Zocalo and we’ll have over 130 pieces of decorated greenery spread out among our large skyline planters, spruce barrels, gnome swags, hanging baskets, and cedar trees!


MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Our annual Winter Whyte Light Up is where we kick off the holiday season with lighting displays, entertainment, warm drinks and more! After cancelling this public event last year due to COVID restrictions, we are excited to bring back a programmed evening of holiday fun! 83rd Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from 12pm-8pm on November 27 but the real fun kicks off at 4pm! There will be roving entertainers, fire pits to keep warm, Flying Canoe photo booth & maple taffy station, Ice on Whyte carving demo & MORE! Check out the event page for full details! You can help by sharing the event within your networks as a way to encourage visiting the area.

OPPORTUNITY: Introducing Winter Whyte Light Up Happy Hour(s)! You are invited to offer any kind of in-store special for the duration of the event on November 27 from 4pm-7pm! Simply let us know what it is, and we’ll add it to our event info so that guests have lots of places to visit and shop while they’re here! Please confirm your offer to Alanna by November 21!

It just wouldn’t be the holidays for us without one of our most well-loved holiday contests! We’ll be granting 24 total wishes and purchase the items from your location for each winner (up to $100 value) and coordinate with you & the winner to pick up their prize at your location! Winners will be drawn at random weekly and entering is easy:

1. Visit an Old Strathcona business
2. Find something nice for someone on your list
3. Snap a picture of the item, storefront or interior and describe the item, service, or experience you wish to gift
4. Share your wish and post it to your social feed (along with where you found it) and tag @oldstrathcona on Twitter or Instagram & use the hashtag #WhyteWishes

OPPORTUNITY: We encourage you to use the #WhyteWishes hashtag to promote your gifts ideas as well! The hashtag is a way for anyone to enter the contest and potentially receive their wish from us. But when YOU use it on your posts, it also creates a digital gift guide of sorts so that when anyone browses this hashtag – it’s full of amazing gift ideas available in Old Strathcona!

A woman wearing a Santa hat holds a gift box with a string of glowing lights wrapped around her and draping the box

In the new year we aim to launch a public monthly newsletter that will share all of the amazing things happening in the district with Edmontonians. But we need to build up that contact list first! That’s where the #WhyteWishes digital advent calendar comes in! For 10 days, anyone who signs up for our new newsletter will be entered into daily draws for $100-$200 in gift cards and gift packs from OSBA member businesses!

OPPORTUNITY: Prizes will be chosen at random, but if you’d like to see your business featured and are able to throw in a $100 gift card let us know by December 1, 2021 and we’ll double it to give away a prize valued at $200 towards your business! 

We’ll need your help getting the word out to build up our newsletter! 

For almost a decade, the City of Edmonton, via its WinterCity Strategy, has invested in promoting winter experiences to generate economic development during some of our colder days. #YEGWinterPatios is a digital media campaign in partnership with Edmonton’s BIAs, SnowSeekers and Linda Hoang designed to:

  • Bring more people to your patios through Dec 2021 – Mar 2022 and
  • Assist with providing warmth to Edmonton’s most vulnerable

OPPORTUNITY: Catch up on campaign info with either this recorded briefing or presentation about the #YEGWinterPatios campaign.

You can sign up anytime throughout the winter, and if you are going to have a patio open on December 3-5 please let Jeff know so he can include it in our holiday promotions.

The weekend fun continues into December with a few holidays performances around the avenue…

December 11: The royal guard duo & magician are back to dazzle passersby as they roam the avenue. Be on the lookout for these characters as they wander through the neighbourhood, stopping for photo ops and spreading holiday cheer from 12pm-4pm!
December 18: The avenue is alive, with the sound of music! To wrap up our weekend celebrations you’ll catch a melodic caroling quartet, performing 3 sets around the district:
– 11:45am-12:15pm @ corner of 83 Ave & Gateway Blvd (Back Street)
– 12:45pm-1:15pm @ corner of 106 St & 82 Ave (SouthBark)
– 2:00pm-2:30pm @ corner of 81 Ave & Calgary Trail

   

While the outdoor programming during Winter Whyte Light Up is more family-friendly, we’re also introducing Mrs. Claus’ Holiday Spectacular! This 18+ holiday themed drag & burlesque show provides some extra entertainment into the evening. We’ll host 2 shows at 7pm and 9pm on November 27 at the Fringe Theatre. Tickets are on sale now and the venue is participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program.

A portion of ticket sales will be donated to a local charity.

Mrs. Claus smiles while displaying candy canes


MARKETS

Old Strathcona is no stranger to the active multi-vendor market scene. Mark these dates on your calendars as these holiday events offer an opportunity to leverage additional foot traffic to your business that is already in the area! Market traffic complements what we know Whyte Ave already has to offer – a one stop destination to shop & gift local this season!

OPPORTUNITY: The Edmonton Christmas Market is back, taking over the historic former Army & Navy Department Store! Want to join the Edmonton Christmas Market as a vendor for FREE? Limited spots are available for businesses in the area to get in on the fun! Find out more here, and then reach out to the market team to get set up: markets@publicfoodhub.com.

The XMAS MKT features local vendors and will be open for 2 weekends, November 26-28 and December 3-5 (10411 82 Ave)!
Royal Bison returns for 2 weekends of in-person shopping! December 3-5 & 10-12 at 8426 Gateway Blvd.
Boocha is hosting their first ever Holiday Market on Dec. 11 featuring local food, gifts, artisans at their back alley taproom

Holiday Markets blog post: https://oldstrathcona.ca/holiday-markets-in-old-strathcona/

Green background, Christmas ornaments from above, list of holiday markets

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

Outside Your Business

  1. Light it up! As the days grow darker it’s even more important to make sure your storefront is visible. Ensure your marquee or awning is well lit and that you adjust your timers to account for shrinking daylight hours. Lighting adds warmth, visibility, and a cue that you are open for business!
  2. Speaking of lights, fill up your window with a creative, eye catching display. String lights, holiday decor, and bright colors stand out and add vibrancy to the street.
  3. Keep your storefront shoveled and sanded/salted! It’s important to ensure safe and clear access to your shop for customers and avoid potential slip & fall incidents.
  4. Stay on top of cleaning windows, sweeping, and litter pickup in your surrounding areas to create a welcoming and attractive storefront.
  5. A sandwich board with a great offer gets passersby to stop, look, and shop. Add a clever saying or illustration and they’ll probably share it on social media, too! Check out some inspiration from around the avenue in the gallery below.
  6. Use your signage to promote special perks. Do you have free wi-fi? Did you just get a new shipment of a wildly popular product that’s hard to find? Alert passersby with clear signage and calls to action.
  7. Have you tried using QR codes on signage, window decals, or product displays to reduce the single use of printed menus, flyers, coupons etc? QR codes also eliminate the physical exchange of paper, reducing one additional touchpoint for your staff and customers.

Inside Your Business

  1. Do customers know how, where, and when they can shop with you? Update store hours on your storefront, social media profiles, website, and your Google My Business listing. Don’t forget to include your social media tags and website url on signage. Make it easy for potential shoppers to find you!
  2. Set the mood. The right music can inspire feelings of calm, happiness, and creativity. Keep your tunes upbeat and change them up often. This is great for both customers and staff. Try tasking a staff member with curating the ultimate feel good playlist!
  3. Get creative with how you reimagine safe in store events. What was once a fashion show could become live in store ‘mannequins’, organize an online book club after celebrating a new release; transform underused spaces in your store to display art or schedule personal shopping sessions.
  4. Collaborate! Teaming up with another business to sell products or services that are complimentary is a great strategy. It’s not always about competition, teaming up and cross promoting can be extremely effective. Check out some of these examples: Laurels, Sugared & Spiced, Vivid Print & Chianti’s, Yelo’d x Doughnut PartySituation Beer x Ohana Donuts,
  5. It doesn’t have to be product or service related either! You could swap flyers or coupons with nearby businesses and vice versa. Or offer shoppers a discount at Store A if they show a receipt from Restaurant B. Finding ways to feature and shoutout neighbouring businesses builds a stronger community destination! For example, we love how Bamboo Ballroom takes product shots all over the avenue, like this one in front of Sugared & Spiced!
  6. Provide educational opportunities in new ways, like Knifewear’s video series on Facebook; or short tutorials on Instagram Stories & Reels like Elementum Massage.
  7. Wrap it up! Make products and special gift items easy to pick up by offering pre wrapped or packaged items that make purchasing a no brainer.
  8. Engage your holiday shoppers with a reason to come back after the holidays. Tell them about new products that will arrive in the new year and suggest when they should come back to spend gift cards.

Online

  1. Still struggling with your store’s online presence? No time like now to change that! Join Business Link’s Digital Economy Program to either get started, or to enhance what you already have.
  2. Use simple online tools to your advantage. Free websites like Canva are perfect for creating engaging visuals to post on social media, for use in email newsletters, or in-store print materials. Pre made templates make it perfect for anyone with little to no design experience.
  3. Post consistently on social media channels about what’s going on in store/online. Share the workload with your team by tasking different staff members with photographing one product/display/outfit/gift idea per shift. Work together to build up a variety of content by splitting the work. And don’t forget to tag @oldstrathcona!
  4. Facebook and Instagram ads can also be a great tool, but aren’t necessarily going to convert to transactions. Consider working with local influencers who often have a more engaged audience of people that live right here in our city! This can be a great way to to bring awareness to your brand locally.
  5. Use email marketing to get customers into your store. If you already have a working customer database, make sure you are communicating on a regular basis. Use great visuals, clear language, and enticing calls to action to drive traffic in store or to your online shop.
  6. If you’re not sending email campaigns, use this time to build up your customer database! Get new shoppers signed up for email offers or mobile messages so that you can retarget them with special offers in the new year.
  7. Make social media part of the in store experience. Set up a “selfie wall” or a photo booth with a backdrop people can take photos in front of. This creates additional user generated content that you can re-share online! You could also turn it into a contest with a special hashtag & offer customers discounts or a chance to win a gift card for posting to social media and tagging your store.
  8. Special offers should have clear calls to action, take a look at this list for inspiration.
  9. Measure the results of your marketing efforts. Track which of the tactics above worked best and keep using them!

GALLERY OF INSPO

We can’t wait to celebrate with you!