Shop Girl: What Can Shop Owners Do To Attract Loyal Customers?

For the next few months, decor8 will feature a Shop Girl series, posts that randomly pop up from time to time about shop ownership - brick 'n mortar and online stores - to gather the perspectives of both owner and customer alike. The goal is to collect ideas that will help small business owners stay afloat which will make our shop experience as customers, a richer, more interesting one that fills more than just our bags, but may even help us meet new people in our community, learn about interesting artists, and walk away feeling refreshed and inspired.
The response from Shop Owners How Do You Stay Alive?, blogged on March 13th, resulted in some informative comments that extend beyond the typical 'great post!' that you usually see on blogs. If you haven't already, please read the comments, enlightening to say the least. Shannon, from the blog Make It, brought up an interesting point that I'd like to get your opinion on.

Shannon said, "I love hearing of small businesses that also hold art/craft exhibits. Doe and Rare Device are two stores that do this very well and not only do they get great publicity from it, they support small artisans and give people another reason to visit their shop, even if they don't feel like shopping. Small businesses need to think of creative ways to get people into their stores (classes, book signings, cocktail hour). Here in Boston, Magpie just reopened in a larger storefront with a temporary art exhibit as well."

So readers, shoppers, friends of independent boutiques... What do you think? How can shop owners attract a loyal following? If you owned a shop, what creative ideas would you use to attract customers? What would you like to gain from your shopping experience?

(images from doe, dear, and rose + radish)