It's not every day that a store turns 100, so I've spent most of the year working up lots of little ways to promote our anniversary to our shoppers. I kept thinking we really needed something fun that would get people excited about our store's place in the community, and then one day it hit me: If we broke some kind of world record involving meat, people would always think of us as the area's best meat market. Since we're in Wisconsin, the choice was obvious: we had to make the world's longest bratwurst.
When I broke the news to the meat department that we needed to make an over 52-foot-long bratwurst, they said no problem. What was a problem was the bun. There wasn't a chance our bakery could do it, so I made a call to a local bakery distributor we work with. He talked to his team and before the day was out they had committed too.
At that point the horse was pretty much out of the barn, so I contacted the organization in charge of world records to let them know that we'd be having a record breaking event, and I started thinking about how we could use this to benefit the local community. We landed on the idea of cooking and serving the brat, charging people for their portion, then donating the proceeds back to a local charity.
Next we started spreading the word. We worked up a flyer and a press release, and did a quick Google search to find all the radio and television stations, newspapers and sports teams within 50 miles. We emailed the press release off to everyone, then we started posting flyers and banners all over town and talking about the event on our Facebook page and in our newsletter. Brats must be pretty big news around here because we started getting calls back almost immediately, and within a week we had the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders scheduled to attend, as well as some local media who were interested.
On the day of the event we had the cheerleaders, a couple of bounce houses and an awesome local band ready to go, and I figured we'd have a couple of hundred people show up. Well, everything started to happen at once and soon we had about a thousand people in our parking lot and camera crews everywhere. We were astonished, but we just kept going with our plan to fire up the brat and serve it. Amazingly, everything went off without a hiccup and when the official measured our brat, we were the new world record holders!
But really the most amazing part was what happened after the event. Later that night we were on every local news station, and days later we were in Maxim magazine and a clip was played on Good Morning America!
I was really overwhelmed. I had been pretty sure we could get the brat and the bun done, I knew we could raise some money for a good cause, but I had no idea that we could get that kind of publicity for our community. People in town are still buzzing about it. They're proud to be in the record book and we're proud to be store that made it possible. At the end of the day, it was all worth the planning and the expense. We had a fantastic day in sales, we raised some money for charity, and made sure there are a few more people in America who know about Prescott, Wisconsin, and our 100-year-old IGA!