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Selling Promotional Items in Your Retail Business

In 2020 my business pivoted hard and opened up a retail barbecue shop in our reception area.  It was such a success that we are moving our promotional business into the upstairs space above the barbecue shop.  Retail business really needs that ground floor access, whereas a promotional business has less foot traffic because we typically go out to see our clients or drop ship products direct, so it an opportunity for both businesses to thrive.  This is my first foray into real retail, so in the 6 months since we opened I have learned a lot.  The biggest impact that I learned was the synergies between promotional and retail.  That is what we are going to discuss in this blog post, how promotional items can make retail businesses even more successful.

Retail customers? What are those?

I have been in the promotional marketing business for 12 years and in that time I have had a handful of successful retail businesses buy things from me like retail shopping bags, uniforms for staff and nametags.  But when you consider how many retailers there are in the world, it’s astonishing how many do not have uniforms, name tags or logo’d bags.  It’s almost a no brainer, we got those items for our retail barbecue business right away. 99% of our promotional customers are not in retail, they are mostly business to business.  I expect that will change, now that I’ve learned more about retail processes and how a promo item can make a retailer that much more successful.

What’s in a bag?

Bags are the lowest hanging fruit in the promotional industry.  When you shop retail, everything goes into a bag.  Grocery stores have been promoting and using reusable tote bags and t-shir style bags for years but Utility totes are making their space known.  In our retail shop, we opted for paper bags because we felt it aligned better with our messaging of making great BBQ, it was a little more eco friendly, but also barbecue rustic.

Can you sell promotional items at retail?

YES!!!  In our tiny barbecue shop we sell a number of promotional items as retail products.  These include but are not limited too: Cutting boards, shaker cups, injectors, thermometers, gift boxes, bags, seasonings, sauces, lip balm and more. Promotional items make for a great way to build your brand with the people that are already your loyal customers, but also create a new brand space for your own private label items.

Charitable donations

Because we are selling our barbecue sauce to ourselves, we had an opportunity to make a slightly higher margin than we would if we were selling someone else’s products.  We chose in this instance to use that extra margin for a charitable donation.  It was a fantastic opportunity to use the purchasing power of our promotional company with the retail aspect of our barbecue store to do some good in the world, which is why we decided to call it BBQ4GOOD


If you are looking for a way to increase your brand awareness or product categories in your retail business, consider selling a promotional item with your logo on it.  You can have higher margins, better brand awareness and a product you can truly call your own.