Summer means new opportunities for small businesses. As the season approaches, we asked a few of our Spotlight Shop small business owners to share a bit of advice on how they prepare. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

Beardsley Zoo

It’s going to be a beary good summer over at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo as they celebrate the summer of “Be Bear Aware!” The zoo can open more exhibits to the public in the summer, which is great, but adding some special events only helps increase attendance.

“We have a whole list of bear-focused events this summer to promote our new Andean bear habitat. We’re also partnering with other organizations to promote what’s going on at the zoo this summer,” said Lisa Chair, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s public relations director. “This summer, we’re hiding prizes in bear books at nearby libraries and giving away stuffed bears!” On site, the zoo will be hosting a family favorite musician and puppeteer and, of course, a LOT of live animal shows. “We don’t just want visitors to come once a summer; we want them to feel like there’s always more to come back for. My advice is to find a few ways to make your business feel special this season so customers feel like they have to come back for more.”

Brewery Ardennes Taproom & Kitchen

Well, that was some great inspo to have a beary good summer, but what about a beery good summer? Here’s what Stacey Edinger, Brewery Ardennes’ head of hospitality and co-founder, has to say about a successful summer season.

"To kick off the season, we always meet with our entire team to recap what worked well for us the previous year and set goals as a group on tangible items we’d like to work on for the new season, including processes to improve the guest experience and make our operation more efficient for our team members. We also brainstorm fun items we’d like to implement for the season ­– including a few team outings or new flavors we’d like to incorporate into our beer or food menus. While these things may seem small, each of us has the ability to feel invested in contributing to our mutual success. Don’t just set goals and expectations for your workers. Set goals and expectations WITH your workers. It makes a huge difference when they’re included.”

Kish-a-wa Creamery

Ice cream shops are obviously projected to do great during the summer months, but success isn’t served for free. Kish-a-wa Creamery is always thinking about how its ice cream stand can stand out.

“Like every summer, we’re rolling out brand-new flavors in addition to our customer favorites. My biggest piece of advice is to really advertise what makes you different," said Pamela Washington, Kish-a-wa Creamery Owner. "People can’t appreciate what they don’t know. A lot of our ingredients, especially our fruit, are sourced from local Nunda gardeners. If I’m a customer, a description like ‘Fresh, house-made strawberry sundae featuring rhubarb sourced from local Nunda gardeners’ sounds way more appealing than ‘Strawberry sundae.’ It pays off to take the extra time to promote what makes your product the best.”

We don’t know about you, but a trip to the zoo/brewery/ice cream shop is on our summer bucket list. We hope you received a little bit of inspiration from these small businesses. For more summer business tips, check out our recent blog, Prepping your small business for summer.

Here’s to warm weather and hot sales!