How Small Business Seized the Solar Eclipse Frenzy

Date: August 22, 2017

Small business owners showed ingenuity on Monday by taking advantage of the widely celebrated solar eclipse that was visible across the United States.

On Monday, August 21, Americans stepped outside and tilted their heads toward the sky to view and celebrate the total solar eclipse, a celestial optical illusion the likes of which hasn’t been visible from the U.S. since 1979.

Disruption from the eclipse was predicted to cost American employers $694 million in lost productivity, according to Fox Business. But the event was also expected to bring in millions in tourism, particularly to the 14 states within the eclipse’s path of totality. Small businesses took full advantage of the natural phenomenon by finding inventive ways to capitalize on the influx of tourists or to advertise their business.


Rolf Wilkin, owner of Eureka Pizza in Arkansas and an NFIB member for nearly 20 years, launched a deal to commemorate the eclipse, selling two large pizzas for the price of one during the time of the eclipse, from 11:43 a.m. to 2:41 p.m. Although it is not within the path of totality, cities in Arkansas are within the zone where roughly 90 percent of the sun covered the moon.

Wilkin promoted his buy-one-get-one-free deal over paid Facebook ads and through email blasts. By lunchtime, Wilkin had over double the number of customers he would receive on a normal Monday, which is typically his slowest day. “You have to treat it like the serious opportunity that it is,” said Wilkin.

Because the solar eclipse brought an overwhelming number of visitors to small towns, small businesses responded by hosting viewing parties, selling T-shirts or safety glasses, promoting themed sales, and even using their land for camping sites.

Although much of the frenzy can be attributed to the eclipse occurring during a popular travel month, the next eclipse is only a few years away—predicted for April 2024—according to Small Business Trends. So if you missed this year’s eclipse, start planning for 2024 and take part in the small business ingenuity.



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