2014 Creative Choice Award Winners
Merchandising Category Winner
Best Fresh Foods Merchandising
"Hog Wild Sale"
Rock Cave IGA
Rock Cave, WV
February 1–9, 2013
Description of the event
Rock Cave, West Virginia is home to a popular wildlife center located roughly 2 ½ miles from Rock Cave IGA. On Groundhog Day every year the wildlife center kicks a groundhog out of his hole to predict the weather in front of TV crews and the Rock Cave community. In 1994, Rock Cave IGA store owner Glen Hawkins was watching this local news broadcast when he had the idea to sell “ground hog” sausage that would capitalize on the annual event. Glen worked with his butcher in the meat department to create handmade pork—or in this case “hog” sausage—in a variety of flavors, including breakfast sausage, hot, mild, and sweet Italian, chorizo, Andouille, bratwurst, and plain ground pork.
That first year he sold 600 pounds in one day. The next year he sold 800 pounds; the next 1600, and when he got to 7,700 pounds sold in one day, his wife told him that he was about to kill his entire team! Glen extended the one-day event to a three-day event, and upped his sales to 10,000 pounds.
This year Glen decided to go hog wild, so to speak, with a full 9-day event. Groundhog Day fell on Saturday, so Glen started the sale on Friday, February 1st and ran the event through Saturday, February 9th. In total, the store sold 17,455 pounds of sausage!
Purpose of the event
Glen saw an opportunity to use his store’s proximity to the wildlife center and the ever-increasing popularity of his “ground hog” sausage to create a 9-day selling event celebrating Ground Hog day.
Steps taken to develop and execute the event
Glen and his team started grinding sausage on the Thursday before the sale started at 6 pm and worked until midnight. Once the sale was going, they started grinding at 6 in the morning each day of the event. Since sausage only has a 3-day shelf life his team had to be grinding constantly to keep up with demand and special orders.
To promote the event, Glen went on the radio to talk about his sale, and that broadcast went out to the four counties surrounding Rock Cave. Local television stations came to Rock Cave IGA to interview him about his sale and also about his knowledge of groundhog meat and hunting to go along with their coverage of Groundhog Day at the wildlife center.
Glen’s son runs the store’s website, and he created a fun ad on the site that included a groundhog hopping in and out of a hole in the corner of the webpage. The sale was also featured in Glen’s weekly flyer, and he advertised it in a local value flyer that is delivered to everyone in the surrounding area.
Success of the event
The success of the promotion is monumental. The Hog Wild sale started in 1994 as a one-day event, selling 600 pounds of sausage. In 2013, it has become a 9-day event that saw 17,455 pounds of sausage sold. During the 2013 sale, the store made about $6,000 of profit.
The sale is also a huge draw that customers look forward to every year. People start calling 2-3 weeks before Groundhog Day to make sure Rock Cave IGA will be holding the event, and to place special orders anywhere from 30–150 pounds of sausage. Last year they got an order for 850 pounds of sausage from a man in a town 55 minutes away from the store.
This event has also led to national exposure: Glen has been featured on The Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, where he hunted, skinned, and cooked up a groundhog with host Andrew Zimmern.