Introducing your business to the world deserves the same red carpet treatment as a hot new film’s opening night. Whether you’re launching your brand online, in a retail store, or somewhere in between, it’s an occasion worthy of fanfare.
A grand opening isn’t just an opportunity to celebrate your success, though. It’s a marketing tactic that can build early buzz for your brand, grow your email list, and connect you to the business community.
Ahead, explore grand opening ideas you can execute for your businesses, as well as more benefits of hosting a launch event or campaign. Plus, get inspired by real grand opening examples from successful brands.
What is a grand opening?
A grand opening is typically an event hosted by a new brick-and-mortar business to introduce itself to the community. But as more and more brands shifted their business online, grand opening ideas evolved to fit the virtual realm. And an online-only celebration has the same benefits as an in-store grand opening.
Your brand’s grand opening isn’t just a one-day event—it includes a buildup to your big moment. Generating buzz for your business should start earlier than launch day. A grand opening could be an in-person event, exclusive early access to an online store, or a countdown on social media to build anticipation for the big day.
💡 Tip: If you need help preparing for a virtual grand opening, bookmark the ecommerce launch checklist to get yourself in tip-top shape for your introduction to the world.
What is a grand reopening?
A grand reopening is an event or campaign to mark a business’s return after a hiatus. It can help you reconnect with loyal customers, reward them for their patience, and introduce any changes made while your business was closed. The excitement around this “do over” may also spread to new customers, too.
For example, a brick-and-mortar store that closed for emergency repairs might host an event to recoup lost profits during closure. Or, in the wake of a retail store expansion, a business may want to host an IRL party to generate buzz around a new store layout.
Why you should host a grand opening event for your business
A grand opening is just one way to market your new business. It should be part of a larger marketing strategy to reach your ideal future customer. But it’s an especially useful tool in achieving specific goals as you launch. For example, an in-person event at a retail store can provide connections to the local businesses and people in your community.
However you decide to celebrate your grand opening—virtually or in person—there are many benefits to doing so. You can:
- Generate press. You can always pitch your story to journalists when you launch, but inviting them to an event increases your chances they’ll be inspired to write about you.
- Meet members of the local community. Hosting a special event can generate word of mouth in your area to reach potential customers.
- Reward early followers and supporters. Choosing to host an exclusive event or offer a promotion to your pre-launch subscribers is a way to reward them for betting on you early.
- Grow your social following. Online grand opening ideas may involve running a social giveaway or follower-only promotion.
- Build your email list. Setting up a countdown page or pre-launch landing page is a great way to collect emails before you go live. When you do launch, you’ll have a sizable list to invite to an event or send a grand opening discount code.
- Collect valuable UGC (user-generated content) and testimonials. Live events or social media contests can get your customers to share their experiences—a great way to gain social proof.
- Start relationships with other brands and retailers. Connecting with local business owners may open up doors for collaboration or partnerships.
14 grand opening ideas to inspire your launch
- Host an in-store event
- Offer a gift with purchase
- Give free product to the first in-store visitors
- Invite your early fans to an exclusive soft launch
- Track the countdown to your grand opening
- Host a live online event
- Run a giveaway or contest
- Provide online promo codes
- Do timed product drops
- Celebrate an expansion
- Invite future customers behind the scenes
- Start a fundraiser or partner with a local charity
- Tag in the influencers
- Collaborate with other brands
There are multiple ways to mark your big day, and you should choose the one that best fits with your brand. Mine this list for creative grand opening event ideas and examples of successful brands who’ve been there.
1. Host an in-store event
This is the typical format of a grand opening as it applies to a brick-and-mortar store. But an in-store event doesn’t have to be limited to a ribbon-cutting and a bunch of balloons. Get creative and host an event that is relevant to your business.
If you run a service business, host a day of speed-dating-style free consultations. If you’re a home goods retailer celebrating a reopening, host a cocktail party for your loyal customers featuring products from the store (e.g., live cocktail demos with martini shakers you sell). Book businesses should consider intimate readings or book signings.
Don’t forget to promote your event on social media, like this example from Buffalo Rouge Brewing:
The Gaslight District’s grand opening event offered free activities as well as an after party. The organization sold tickets on its website:
2. Offer a gift with purchase
If your goal is to get lots of activity in your retail store on day one, your grand opening promotion may be a limited-edition gift with purchase. This idea works for online stores, too.
In Los Angeles, low-waste refill shop Prostainable celebrated its grand opening week by offering reusable hemp totes to the store’s first five customers each day. The gift aligns with the store’s mission and provides plenty of room for more purchases.
⭐Bonus: If your gift with purchase is swag (say, a branded beanie or water bottle), you’re deputizing your customers as brand ambassadors.
3. Give free product to the first in-store visitors
Even better than a gift with purchase? Give away free samples or products to the first few people to show up at your grand opening event. In this example from Hey Sugar, the brand promoted free treats to the first 100 customers to step through the bakery’s doors.
4. Invite your early fans to an exclusive soft launch
An exclusive event or perk can be a great tool to soft launch your business. If you want to forgo the big public event, you can still incentivize email sign-ups or social follows by hosting a soft opening. This could take the form of an invite-only event or an early access link and promo code for your supporters.
The benefit of this approach is getting early customer feedback and some live QA testing of your site before you open it up to the rest of the world. And, if your first customers have a great personalized shopping experience at your soft opening, the word of mouth will already be circulating by the time you launch.
Retail businesses can also use this idea to host an exclusive grand opening event to preview the store before it opens to the public.
A landing page like this one from Bath and Beauty Bar can build an email list in anticipation of launch. You can then invite this list for an early sneak peek.
5. Track the countdown to your grand opening
A Coming Soon page with a countdown clock can build excitement for your store launch or grand opening event. This is a great place to link to as you build your social following. Collect emails on this page by incentivizing sign-up with a promo code or early access link.
During your countdown, you can use social media to bring your early fans into your process—share the hectic last-minute scramble of going live or share sneak peeks of your space or products.
6. Host a live online event
There are many reasons why you might opt to host a virtual event versus an in-person one. During the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners had to get creative to engage customers with their brands during rolling lockdowns.
DIY brand AR Workshop celebrated the grand opening of its Prospect, Kentucky, location with pick-up maker kits that customers could snag curbside before joining a Facebook Live event to craft together via an online group demo.
Gardengate used the same grand opening idea to launch its new training center:
7. Run a giveaway or contest
One of the most common grand opening ideas, this tactic works for any store, online or IRL. A contest or giveaway can grow your following, build your email list, generate UGC, or get followers to share your content. Use social and ask your followers to take a specific action for an entry into the giveaway.
Studio Pilates Nashville used this idea to drum up excitement for its launch, even partnering with other local businesses to increase reach:
8. Provide online promo codes
Your first sale is a momentous occasion. If you launch your website or open your doors to the sound of crickets, it can be deflating. That first sale is the validation that you’re onto something. To incentivize grand opening day purchases, offer a promo code to all visitors to your site (say, through a homepage banner) or reward your early followers and subscribers with an exclusive discount.
When influencer Sam Hwang launched her online store, she announced a special promo code to her Instagram followers to thank them for supporting her:
Crunch Fitness used its grand opening announcement to offer a special to customers who signed up to support the brand in its early days:
9. Do timed product drops
What if your grand opening is a journey, not a destination? You can release your full collection or website all at once, or trickle it out in “product drops” to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity. This is an especially effective tactic if your drops are limited edition.
In this example from Kayley Cuoco’s brand, Oh Norman!, the celeb released pet products in drops, scheduling a number of soft opening events for early subscribers:
10. Celebrate an expansion
New businesses shouldn’t have all the fun. Your existing business can also host a grand opening event if you expand into new online channels, open a new retail location, move your business, or even add more space.
When The Colombian Coffee Bar & Roastery opened another café, the brand hosted an in-person event, offering free treats to its earliest visitors:
The town of Grand Falls-Windsor even used the expansion of its local skatepark to host a grand opening event.
11. Invite future customers behind the scenes
Many online creators have leaned into behind-the-scenes content to share their space and process with fans. This is a popular content format on platforms like TikTok. Use this idea to host a tour of your space and introduce yourself to your potential customers in advance of your grand opening.
When Boston’s Little Leaf Farms opened its new greenhouse during the pandemic, lockdowns didn’t stop the company from hosting a splashy grand opening party. The event included demos, a founder Q&A, and a tour of the space—all in a virtual format.
The owner of Tyler Balloon Bar in Texas used TikTok to share a time lapse of her process of designing and setting up the brand’s new store in advance of its opening day:
@tylerballoonbar Open my dream store with me! #partydecorations #balloon #partystore #balloondecor #balloongirl #storefront #grandopening #MakeABunchHappen ♬ Fly Away – Tones And I
12. Start a fundraiser or partner with a local charity
If social impact and community are important to your business, take a step beyond declaring it on your About page. A fundraiser or charity partnership is a great way to demonstrate that your business lives up to its values. And community connections are important for any new store hoping to attract local business.
Here’s how two businesses used their grand opening events as an opportunity to give back:
13. Tag in the influencers
Invite local influencers to your grand opening party, partner on a giveaway leading up to your big day, or simply work with them on a paid promotional post the day your online store goes live. Using a dedicated promo code will help you measure the success of the campaign.
Smashburger not only partnered with designer Charming Garlands to create a balloon arch for its new location. It also benefited from reaching the account’s more than 40,000 followers in a follow up post:
When Lego opened a new store in Ohio, the brand invited niche Lego influencers to the grand opening:
@legocollector67 A new lego store opened up @crockerpark in ohio!! Was very excited to be there for this!!! #lego#legostoreopening #grandopening #legoafol#legocity#legostarwars #petsmart #AmazonSavingSpree #expensive#lovelego#legoafolclub ♬ original sound – Aandjsbricks
14. Collaborate with other brands
The small business community is a lifeline for newcomers to the space. Within the retail world, a Main Street of local businesses can collaborate on advertising, events, and solving local problems that affect the business community.
In the online world, connecting with others in the same industry offers knowledge-sharing and the opportunity for collaboration. Start building your community from the outset by folding other brands into your grand opening plans.
💡 Tip: You can also collaborate with other types of people. Consider inviting a local celebrity or commissioning local artists to create art to raise money for a charity.
A grand opening celebrates you—and your customers
Launching your first business—or your 10th—is cause for celebration. An entrepreneur’s work can feel like it never ends, so an event like a grand opening allows you to slow down and take stock of how far your business has come—from your very first win to your latest. The best part? You won’t be celebrating alone. You’ll be raising a glass alongside your future customers and starting your relationship off with a bang.
Feature illustration by Gracia Lam
Grand opening ideas FAQ
What should I do for my grand opening?
What you do for your grand opening depends on your business type and budget. You can do anything from running a simple online contest when you launch your website to hosting an in-person party at your brick and mortar store, inviting the local community. Other unique grand opening ideas are less conventional, such as using the event to break a world record or hosting a live karaoke night with a local band. The ideas are endless!
How do you create a successful grand opening?
The success of your grand opening depends on your goals. How do you define success? That answer will help you set targets for your grand opening. Maybe it’s a specific number of people who visit your event, participants in a contest, or a sales target. Then you can work backward from your goal to determine how you will achieve it and have a successful grand opening event.
How do you attract people to a grand opening?
To attract people to your grand opening, you may want to spend a few weeks or months ahead of the event building your social audience or email list. Then, consider what incentives might interest that audience. Giveaways, promo codes, food and drink (at an in-person event), or gifts with purchase can all attract people to your grand opening.
How do you promote a grand opening?
You should promote your grand opening event or campaign on the channels where your target audience hangs out. This can be done through organic social posts, email communication, or paid ads. You can also promote your grand opening through word of mouth, PR, and other marketing channels. For retail businesses, print your big event details on flyers to post in other local businesses.