The concept of a “drop” was first popularized by the streetwear brand Supreme, known for its limited-edition releases and the resulting lines that snake around the corner from its stores. The idea was simple: every Monday, Supreme would announce a set of items that would be for sale that week, and on Thursday at 11 AM, the stock would be made available—first-come, first served. This marketing tactic proved immensely successful for two reasons:

  1. It creates hype around the brand.
  2. It creates value due to the limited nature of what’s sold.

To this day, drops are an intrinsic part of the Supreme experience, and both fashion brands and other types of consumable businesses have followed suit.

Drops are also a powerful tool for local businesses—both as a marketing strategy and an operational approach. Whether you’re a baker selling pastry boxes or a vintage furniture dealer with rotating inventory, a drop-based business model fosters creativity, consistency, and community.

Creativity

Drops empower makers and sellers to instill creativity into their process while keeping things exciting for customers.

For example, Sasha Piligian runs a microbakery in Los Angeles called May Provisions. Part of her program is a pastry box comprised of whatever sweets she feels like making that week, informed by the seasonal fruit she finds at the farmers market. Every Monday she drops her menu and then customers can place orders for pick-up that Saturday.

Another case is Savoy’s Objects, a vintage home decor seller that drops a new collection of nine items on the first of every month, each carefully curated by the founder Reegan Houston. “We made it a point to take the hard work out for the consumer shopping experience, creating a collection of objects that can be purchased separately or together,” their website reads.

Consistency

Once you decide on a regular time to make drops, your customers will always know when to check in. Better yet, send them a text when the drop is live. (Psst: Bottle makes that easy.) Consistent drops also help establish a timeline to organize your workload around.

Just like Sasha’s regulars know that they can tune in on Mondays to see what she’s baking that week, the Brooklyn-based Italian-American pop-up Zaza Lazagna drops their weekly menu on Saturday mornings and takes orders through Tuesday—or until they sell out.

And in San Francisco, Good Children ice cream releases a new slate of flavors—ranging from toasted fig leaf custard to starburst sorbet—at the start of the week for pre-orders. Pick-ups occur on Sundays.

Community

Drops are exclusive and limited in nature, which makes customers who are in on the game feel special. As a business, you’re forging deeper connections with the customers who regularly act on your drops. And as those customers spread the word to others, a foundation for a club-like ecosystem is laid.

“There is one task I complete almost every week, organizing my weekend plans around the pickup window,” writes San Francisco Chronicle food editor Serena Dai, referring to her obsession with Good Children’s pints. “The flavors change every week, adjusted for what’s available locally like any good artisanal California food producer. Some I like more than others, though they’re all masterpieces,” she adds.

For local businesses with great products set on maintaining creativity, keeping an organized schedule, and building a devoted fanbase, drops are the way to go.