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What is a Business Open House?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

A business open house is an event in which a company invites the public to drop in to the store. In some cases, an open house invitation to the general public is published in a local newspaper, while other times only certain people receive invitations in the mail. Most business open houses are held between specified hours on one day. There are usually tables of food for guests to help themselves. A business open house may be held for many different reasons including opening a new store, adding a new staff member or celebrating a company anniversary.

For example, a firm in business for 10 years may hold a 10th anniversary open house. The invitations or public announcement may read something like "Please come join us on March 19 from 12 - 4 pm to celebrate 10 great years of serving your community." A business open house held to celebrate the addition of a new employee would announce the person's name and title. A mention of the food to be offered as well as gifts to be given out can help get people to attend the open house.

A business open house might include food for attendees.
A business open house might include food for attendees.

Many companies hand out small promotional gifts to attendees of business open houses. Even something as simple as a pen with the company name and contact information works well. People can always use pens and by customizing them with company information, each pen is a useful piece of advertising. The food served at a business open house varies, but sandwiches and other foods that can be eaten with the hands are the most popular. Oftentimes, the seating is limited and people stand and chat near the food table.

In some cases, an open house invitation to the general public is published in a local newspaper.
In some cases, an open house invitation to the general public is published in a local newspaper.

Holding a business open house is usually a good idea if the company stays on budget. It brings publicity to the business as well as potential new customers. Business open houses may also help keep old customers; some company open houses are held as customer appreciation events. Commercial open houses are generally a good time to present some information about the company and its products or services. For instance, along with the sandwiches and cookies, new product brochures and business cards could be placed on the table.

Some firms offer discounts and sales during an open house day. Having a business open house can be especially worthwhile if a company is brand new or is relocating. Even in smaller cities, many potential customers may not even realize the business is there or that it's a company that has products or services they could use. Especially during an open house, it's a good idea to have knowledgeable staff on duty to answer customer questions.

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Discussion Comments


Is there any law in California that restricts door prizes to those attending an open house for a medical facility? They would just be given a ticket at the door and the other half of the ticket goes in a container to be selected.


It was a really smart move for the new catering company that opened up in town to have an open house and offer samples of their food. Those were the best refreshments I’ve ever had at an open house!

I had no need of using a catering company, but when I heard that they were offering free food, I did not want to miss out. I got to sample everything from egg rolls to wedding cake at this open house.

While I knew I wouldn’t be needing their services, I did do them the honor of telling my friends with an upcoming wedding about the open house. They showed up about half an hour after I had called them to rave about the food, and they loved it so much that they decided to use the company for their reception.


@golf07 - Advertising does help, and one of the best places you can announce your open house is in the local newspaper. I work for a newspaper, and I design at least one open house ad per week. People know that this gets results, so they keep doing it.

I have done several ads that focused on an open house in honor of someone’s retirement. These ads usually had a picture of the person retiring, along with a nice script font and details about the time and date.

I probably do the most open house ads around Christmas, though. Businesses are eager to get people in there shopping for gifts, and they offer things like gingerbread cookies and peppermint tea, along with hot cocoa and small gift bags.


It is so important to not do anything too risky when having an open house. My friend had one two years ago when she opened up her gift shop, and she made a mistake that I believe led to the business’s failure.

She made some dip that contained eggs and mayonnaise, and she brought it with her to work that morning, seven hours before the open house. She didn’t have a refrigerator at work, and this was not good for the dip.

It gave all the guests food poisoning. Several of them called to complain the next day, and she lost a ton of potential customers because of this. She had to close within 6 months, and I think that if she hadn’t had the mishap with the dip, she would still be in business today.


@burcidi - I think that the main reason a real estate agent holds an open house is to try and sell that house as soon as possible. There was an open house close to me the other day, and I noticed that the address was to a house that had been on the market for about two years. The agent was likely desperate to move the property.

Even though the focus is on a certain house, real estate agents are salespeople by nature, and they put a lot of effort into promoting themselves. They always hand out business cards with their websites listed on them, where visitors can see all their listings in one location.

Even though most agents work for a big real estate agency, they don’t usually point people toward the agency itself. By law, they have to mention that they work for them, but they can have their own personal pages with all their listings. They want the people attending the open house to focus on these listings instead of all the ones offered by the agency.


I always enjoy attending open houses, whether it be a business open house or a party open house for a new home, they are always fun.

There is always a festive spirit that I find contagious. I love to throw parties, and know how important it is to put your best foot forward when it comes to an open house.

Giving away something free that has your name and number on it is also a great way to advertise. Not only do people love freebies, but it is a great way to get your name out there.

I have a cousin who works for an engraving company, and he has taken thousands of orders for engraved pens and other products that companies give away at events like open houses.


There are ways a business can advertise an open house without spending a lot of money. If you want to reach a wide range of people, I agree that you may have to spend some money on outside advertising.

Another great way to advertise a business open house is through social media marketing. This is usually free and a great way to let people who are already familiar with your business what you have going on.

Since word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising, hopefully you would also get some new customers from the positive comments of current customers.

Most people love something that is free, so by giving away some free products and food, you have a much greater chance of bringing more people in the door. If they like what they see, chances are they will become a customer, and your efforts would have paid off.


If a business is trying to get some new customers, an open house is a great way for them to get some exposure.

There are many different ways they can advertise for this, and I think they should take advantage of as many of them as they can afford.

There was a new retail store that opened up close to my home that I wasn't even aware of. One day as I was driving by I saw some balloons and a big sign out by the road advertising their open house.

I think this was a good way to get the attention of people driving by who might not have stopped in otherwise. I know that it worked for me anyway, and I have gone back to that store many times since then.

Their open house was part of their grand opening event. They did have some refreshments available, but the best part was the great sales they had on their products during the event.


Several of the companies that my husband does business with have holiday open houses. These are usually done as an appreciation event for their regular customers.

Most of the time they have food available and give away door prizes throughout the day. One year my husband won a TV at one of these open houses.

He had been a regular customer for many years there. Even though he planned on continuing to give them business, winning a prize like that was something that reinforced his view of the company.

Whether a business has an open house as a thank-you for current customers, or wants to bring in new customers, I think it would be worth the money and effort that it takes to put one on.


Real estate agents have open houses too. What's the difference between the promotional open house events held by other types of businesses and the open house that real agents hold?

Real estate agents have open houses when they want to show a house to multiple customers right?

I think I saw something about this on TV and from what I remember, they also had appetizers and some wine at the house, like other business have during their open house. But aside from people seeing the house, do real agents have any other activities or promotions during the event?


@alisha-- I agree with you. If it's not properly advertised and run, a business open house will just be a waste of money.

I think open houses are a great way to network and gain new customers. In order for it to be successful though, you have to put yourself in the customer's shoes and think about what they would want to see at an open house. I run a small bookstore and I have an open house every year. I start advertising it more than a month before with ads, posters and fliers. And we always mention any special activities, gifts and promotions we will be having that day.

One thing I always pay attention to is children's activities. We have a nice chidlren's book section in the store, so during the open house we have storytelling, games and special snacks for the little ones. At the end of the event, we do a drawing for all who attended and give away up to ten books for free. We're very proud that our yearly open house has been a complete success for the past several years.

@summing-- I went to a cafe's open house the other day. I'm a college student and this cafe just opened up right next to campus. They planned the open house to advertise their opening and introduce themselves to students and others in the area.

I went with my friends and the open house was a really nice atmosphere. There were a lot of people so we went early and got a table. Each table had menus and we each picked several things off the menu to try. The food and the drinks were really good. We actually anticipated that we would pay for everything, but at the end of the evening, the store owner came and told us that since it was their opening, everything was free. It was a really nice surprise and we were all very pleased.

If I were in their place though, I would have advertised the open house more. There was no official business open house invitation and we didn't even know that the food and drinks would be complimentary. I think many students avoided the event because they expected to pay. So I guess when you're having an open house, it's a good idea to get the word out as much as possible. And if you're offering complimentary products, mention that too! People love free stuff, that's a fact!


Here is a little retail secret for you. Having an open house is a great way to mask a normal day of business as a special event. I run a gift store and we have a holiday open house every year around Christmas. We decorate the store, serve apple cider and hot chocolate, get some kids to sing some carols and just generally try and turn it into a holiday party. Of course, everything is for sale too.

We always do a tidy business that day and the customers seem to really enjoy the experience. It is like shopping at a party and it puts people in the holiday spirit.


Where can I find cheap but tasteful looking open house invitations for businesses? I am having an open house for my jewelry store in about two months and I want to send out invites to all the businesses and homes in the area. That will be hundreds of invites and with the postage the cost will be significant. I am trying to save as much as I can on the printing cost without having them look cheap and tacky.


Having a business open house can be a great way to connect with your neighbors and maybe find some new business that you would never have expected. Lots of people think that open houses are only for retail shops but there are other places that can benefit as well, with a few exceptions.

All you really need is some light refreshments, a sign clearly announcing the event and a willingness to meet anyone and everyone that comes through the door. Inviting people in to your business is a little like inviting them into your home. You want to be the best host that you can.

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    • A business open house might include food for attendees.
      By: Aleksey Kondratyuk
      A business open house might include food for attendees.
    • In some cases, an open house invitation to the general public is published in a local newspaper.
      By: Minerva Studio
      In some cases, an open house invitation to the general public is published in a local newspaper.