Yesterday, it finally happened for a lot of small businesses and small towns across the U.S. As we outlined earlier, the 2017 total solar eclipse was a windfall for lots of businesses with pop-up entrepreneurial ideas. Did your business miss the opportunity? Were you outside the path of totality? If so, here are some things we learned that you can file away for the future dates below.
Business lessons from a total eclipse
Don’t fight it, embrace it
It’s hard to compete with a once-in-a-lifetime event. This is especially true if the event takes place in the middle of a day that’s before or after the weekend. Schools may close, or not. If you do plan to stay open, you’ll find very few customers, if any, show up during the hours leading up to the eclipse. Every business is different, so do what’s right for you.
Include a party
Reports from across the country are similar to what we witnessed. At the precise time of totality, people scream and shout and use up left over July 4th fireworks. However, they quickly stop doing anything as the awe sets in and people start saying “wow” in various ways.
Print a tee-shirt
We mentioned this in our previous post, but it was even more evident on the day of the eclipse. People had tee shirts celebrating the event that ranged from really bad puns to wearable art. Tee-shirts were a major part of business-related eclipse parties.
Everything you do should be round and include the word “sun” or “moon”
If you have a party or not, the food-of-the-day is “round.” We saw round food everywhere. The obvious: Oreo, Moon Pies. Clever not-so-obvious: Corona and local craft beers with the words “blue” or “moon” or “sun” in their name.
Pop-up camp grounds
Because the 2017 path of totality was primarily a rural and small town event, some of the most clever small business ideas involved transportation and temporary lodging. Lots of clever campgrounds that lasted just a few days. (Cautionary note: The zoning regulations, insurance, or other types of codes necessary to operate a camping facility — even for overnight — should be checked.)
A total eclipse is very different from a partial eclipse
To be honest, if we didn’t live in 2017’s path of totality, we would not have driven a hundred miles or more to witness it. Big mistake. There is something magical that happens when the sun goes completely dark in the middle of the day. If you see one, there’s a good chance you’ll turn into an eclipse chaser for a future one.
Future dates to try out your eclipse business ideas (U.S.)
October 14, 2023 | While not a solar eclipse like that witnessed in 2017, there will be an “annular” or “ring of fire” eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon is farther away from the Earth, so it is not quite large enough to block out all of the light from the sun. It has the nickname “Ring of Fire Eclipse” due to its large corona. The 2023 annular eclipse will be visible from California to Texas and across portions of Central America and South America.
Annular eclipse, 2012. Wikipedia
April 8, 2024 | It will look similar to the 2017 eclipse, but unlike the 2017 eclipse, the path of totality in 2024 will include several large cities including Dallas, Little Rock, Arkansas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo and Montreal. The path will also include a few locations that witnessed the 2017 eclipse, including Carbondale, Illinois; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and Paducah, Kentucky.
Path of Totality for 2024 eclipse. Click for Google map.
August 12, 2045 | This “mother of all U.S. solar eclipses” will once again track across the United States, this time from Northern California to Florida. More impressive: During the 2045 eclipse, the moon will block out the sun completely for over six minutes, the longest-lasting total eclipse experienced anywhere in the world until 2114.
Plan ahead and party.