The $20 Produce Tent Sale That Went Viral

Jan 21, 2019


Maurer's Market IGA
Location: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and Janesville, Wisconsin (and now open in Columbus, Wisconsin)
Owners: Kristie and Jeff Maurer
Department: Produce
Difficulty: Difficult
Store Specs: 20,000 sq. ft.



"Over the summer, we held three Produce Tent Sale events at two store locations to increase store foot traffic and sell more produce. We set up a tent outside the store in the parking lot and brought boxes full of produce out for the sale. We charged $20 per bag, and shoppers could fill each bag with as much produce as they wanted. The only rule was that the produce had to come from the tent—the bag wasn't valid inside the store.

We integrated our two-day Produce Tent Sale promotional campaign across multiple marketing channels, including our new text and email channels, as well as Facebook. On the social media platform, we spent $57.00 total to boost the events and event-related posts for both stores, which resulted in strong engagement and awareness on the platform.

The Produce Tent Sale events grossed over $15,000 in produce sales this summer and were a huge success on social media. Shoppers would run home and post photos of their hauls on their personal pages, showing off how much produce they were able to fit in their bags and tagging us in the photos. This user-generated content quickly went viral within the community and led to more shoppers.

We reaped the benefit of the residual shopping traffic in-store and great exposure in the communities we serve. The social media marketing campaign resulted in strong produce sales and positive brand awareness as we moved into a new market at the start of the summer events.

We believe branded message consistency and uniform graphics were key in positive brand association and customer recall. Our customers are looking forward to next summer’s Produce Tent Sale and we are looking forward to introducing the event to our new Columbus store community."



Facebook impressions

Facebook likes and shares

event responses

Why It Works

For Our Shoppers

People have fun and get excited. Our customers were anticipating the event and had so much fun seeing how much produce they could fit in a bag. It became a challenging game for each shopper to see if they could fit a few more pieces of produce in the bag.

Shoppers learn about produce. We put our produce managers in charge of the event, so they were outside in the tents talking to shoppers. If a shopper wanted a red pepper and we didn't have them out there, the produce managers were able to explain why we were offering green peppers and not red. The shoppers learned more about their produce and experienced one-on-one interaction with our produce managers.

Customers can save money. Since we didn't limit how many of each item our customers could put in the bag, some of them were able to be strategic and save money. For example, a local vintner bought 19 pints of blueberries for a blueberry wine he produces. He said he normally would have spent about $60 on that amount but spent only $20 during this event.

For Our Store

Boosted produce sales. The Produce Tent Sale events brought in $15,000 in produce sales and increased in-store traffic.

Efficient social media engagement. For a low cost, we advertised the sales to a target audience near the store locations and received a lot of traffic on our Facebook page, with people liking and sharing the event with their friends and spreading the word.

Increased brand awareness. With the conversation online about the Produce Tent Sale, many shoppers living in our existing locations and new location area learned about the sale and our store. People were even spreading the word with friends and family through texts! Everyone had fun and felt they got a great deal, which created a memorable positive experience that they now associate with our brand and our stores.


  1. Utilized branded 2-Day Produce Tent Sale artwork to create a Facebook event page, posting it the Monday before each weekend event.
  2. Boosted each event and related posts on Facebook with $5 to $15 throughout the week leading up to event day.
  3. Employed our newly established texting and email channels to spread the word to the appropriate store’s customers.
  4. Brought our tent, produce bags, and Produce Tent Sale banner to each store event for consistent branding.



We spent $57 total in $5 to $15 increments over the course of the summer to boost Facebook events and posts the week before each weekend event. For that investment, we received over 100 responses, over 1,500 likes and shares, and over 11,000 impressions.

The setup and takedown cost of the rented tent was about $300-400, but we were able to keep it up overnight at each event, boarding up the sides and keeping the produce inside. Since we used local companies to rent the tents, they offered us a discount on future rentals.


Pro Tips

  • Keep it simple. Instead of doing the event in-store and having to limit which produce items were permitted for the sale, we moved the sale outside under a tent. Any produce under that tent was eligible for the sale, and any produce in-store was not.
  • Turn a negative into a positive. We ordered cantaloupe for the sale, but when it arrived we realized it was too big for the bags. Instead of letting it go to waste, we gave them away for "free with purchase" to the first 300 people who attended the event. That bonus was so successful that we did the same with pumpkins during the fall events.
  • Learn quickly and adjust. During our first event, we planned to run the same items on Day 2, but when we mentioned to customers that they should return because we would have more strawberries, they immediately became intrigued about the other variations we would be offering the next day and returned. From that feedback, we now vary what we offer on each day and encourage shoppers to return the next day for the new offerings.
  • Encourage sharing. Challenge your shoppers to have fun and make a game out of it. When they are proud of how much produce they were able to fit in their bags, encourage them to take photos of their hauls and share on social media and text their friends and family. Those word-of-mouth recommendations help the event go viral and bring in new customers.
  • Keep it fresh. By moving the produce outside, we knew we were taking a risk, since it could spoil more quickly. But the setup felt more fresh, and the shoppers were inspired to stop in and buy more in that fresh-from-the-farm environment.


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