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Store: Gary & Leo’s IGA
Location: Havre, Montana
Submitted by: John Malisani
We have about 10,000 people in our town and a small university. Since the school is small, we don’t get a lot of extra money from the state, so a group of community leaders formed the Northern Lights Athletic Scholarship Foundation to raise funds to supplement scholarships and improve the athletic facilities for the university. Gary & Leo’s supports our local university throughout the year through the foundation, and for the Spring Fling fundraising event, we created a live auction item that would promote our store, renew the awareness in the local equals fresh message for the next 12 months, and of course raise funds for the foundation.
The package included 12 months of gifts from Gary & Leo’s, each with a theme. For example:
We intended it as one package, so that the winner could come in once a month and we would make a dog and pony show out of it—we’d announce the event, take photos, and thank the customer publicly for their support. As it turns out, the local hospital administrator purchased the package and awards a monthly package to a deserving employee. Thanks to him, we’ll have 12 different people coming in for the package throughout the year, which means we’ll have the opportunity to win over 12 different customers.
For Our Shoppers
Benefits the university. This promotion helped raise funds for the scholarship foundation, which benefits our students and community.
Consumer confidence. It gives customers a great deal of confidence that they’re shopping in a place that gives back to the community. You can walk in the door and see that Gary and Leo’s donated this and that, and it gives shoppers confidence that they’re shopping in the right place.
Stronger community. We need this. We are the same as everybody else as far as Amazon eroding our sales and our hometown community spirit. Everywhere you go now, people are really looking at hometown and thinking, “If we purchase more and more online, eventually we will have nowhere local to shop.” So by offering a promotion that benefits our university and our store, we’re showing our community that we are local and we are here for them.
For Our Store
Relationship building. We are proving to our shoppers and our community that we are here for them and that we are the true hometown retailer. They can’t get this relationship from Walmart or other big stores.
Monthly marketing. For the next 12 months, we’re going to get some mileage out of this. It’s not just one and done. Every month at the meeting at the hospital, they make a big show of it and hand out the certificate. Then the winner comes to the store, and we get to make a big show out of it, so we get coverage for it 12 times.
Community awareness. There were over 500 people in the gym at the Spring Fling listening to the auctioneer talk about how Gary & Leos donated this package. Those mentions remind the community that we are their hometown grocer.
Talk to local producers and they’ll throw in their products for free. Local beer vendors will give you coolers, local honey producers will donate honey. You’ll be amazed at how people get on board to help out.
Make a presentation out of it. For St. Patrick’s Day, we prepared a basket with carrots, potatoes, beads, and more. We do it all for them prior to their arrival, and just ask the recipient to call ahead of time so we know when they’re picking up their package.
How did you come up with the idea to donate these 12 packages for the Foundation?
10,000 people in town, small university. Scholarship foundation is a group of community leaders who get together to raise money for scholarships and athletic facilities for the university. Since they’re small, they don’t get a lot of state money.
Three events a year—pheasant hunt, golf, and spring fling. This fundraiser is a dinner with athletes serving; buy a table, community
Renew awareness in local and fresh; how to promote store, raise funds, etc. at same time?
Was one package auctioned at a time, or did one person bid on all 12 packages for a year's worth of Gary and Leo's "nights in?" One package so they could come in once a month and we would make a dog and pony show out of it. Local hospital administrator bought it and shares.
Do you recall how much the package(s) went for?
Did you give them a suggested starting offer? If so, what was it?
I was good with whatever but knew everyone recognized it as a fundraiser; 13 people on the board
Do you know the retail value of the package(s)?
It’s affordable—not above $1200. Talk to all the local producers and they’ll throw in the products for free. Call ahead of time—we’ll make the basket and have it ready for them. All those dollars are at your retail.
Can you name three ways this practice benefits your shoppers?
Not about doubling your sales. Community awareness—there were over 500 people in the gym listening to the auctioneer talk about Gary & Leos donating the package.
Gives customers great deal of confidence that they’re shopping in a place that gives back to the community, just like that. You can walk in the door and see that Gary and Leo’s donated this and at.
Stronger community. We need this. We are the same as everybody else in that Amazon is eroding our sales and our hometown community spirit. Everywhere you go now, people are really looking at hometown and thinking, if you ship everything out.
Three ways it benefits your store?
For the next 12 months, we’re going to get some mileage out of this. It’s not just one and done.
Do you have any advice for other IGA stores who might want to try a similar practice? Anything you learned from doing it this time that you might improve upon next time?
Simple is better.
Every community is a little bit different.
Realize you’ll get good press out of it.