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Once Halloween hits and passes, it can suddenly feel like a home run sprint around the year-end holiday bases, racing to Thanksgiving, straight away to Christmas, and then sliding into New Year’s for the big finish.
Despite the mad rush, IGA retailers are known for helping their communities get festive with holiday events, special offerings, and community traditions. Here are just a few examples; perhaps you’ll be inspired to start a new tradition at your store!
Deck the Halls
See how IGAs are setting the scene for a merry and bright holiday season by decorating their stores inside and out.
Special guest appearances
Nothing like some face time with Old Saint Nick to show your Christmas spirit.
Reese & Ray’s IGA in Sidney, Montana, participates in an annual holiday parade in late November, which ends at the store and features a visit from Santa, who hands out candy. As part of the event, the store donates a decorated Christmas tree to be auctioned off, with the proceeds from the sale going to the local Boys and Girls Club.
Granite Falls IGA in Granite Falls, Washington, transforms part of their store’s cafe into a holiday display worthy of Santa’s big visit. Kids are invited to visit with Santa, and get their picture taken for free (it’s a digital file sent via email). The event is paired with holiday cookie decorating for extra family fun.
Fans of the movie Frozen love the chance to meet Elsa and Olaf in person, along with an appearance from Santa at Village Farms IGA in Massapequa Park, New York. For the past few years, they’ve hosted a Winter Wonderland event at the store, where shoppers can pose for photos with the man in red and his celebrity guests.
Helping the hungry
Village Farms pairs its Winter Wonderland fun with a more serious cause: giving food to people in need. For the past 18 years, the store has organized an annual food drive around the holidays, asking customers to donate non-perishable items.
Up north in Alaska, helping the hungry get through the long winters is critical. So far this year, the Southeast Alaska Food Bank in Juneau has distributed 212,000 pounds of food to its member agencies and another 129,000 pounds to individuals on its Saturday distribution days. Now in its 23rd year, the Sharing is Caring food drive is the Food Bank’s largest event of the year, and takes place over one day at Juneau’s Super Bear and Foodland IGA stores. Shoppers can buy pre-made bags of food and then donate them, which is similar to how food drives are done at other IGA stores.
Cookies, cookies, cookies
Inspired by a similar event held at Schild’s IGA, Kishman’s IGA in Minerva, Ohio puts on a two-day Cookie Walk aimed at providing customers with an endless variety of pick-and-choose treats to give and share through the holiday season. Growing bigger every year, the 2019 event featured 35 feet of cookies baked on site, including: ginger molasses, wedding cookies, M&M sugar cookies, raspberry burst, lemon shortbread, mint chocolate chip, no-bakes, gingerbread men, chocolate chip, coconut pecan, Christmas shortbread, and more. Customers grab a holiday-themed box and walk down the line, select what cookies they like, and then pay by the pound ($7.99).
According to Store Manager Matt Kishman, the event is a win-win for the store. “Shoppers can buy a variety of cookies they don’t have to make themselves. It’s also a fun way to get into the holiday spirit and build teamwork in the bakery department. Staff dress up in Christmas sweaters, elf/Santa hats, and holiday-themed aprons,” he said.
But what about the shoppers who have a family tradition of making their own holiday cookies? Kishman's makes that as easy as possible too, with pre-made cookie kits that contain everything shoppers need to make gorgeous holiday cookies, including cookie cut-outs made from local, slow-churned butter.
Other delicious offerings
From yule log and fruit cakes to Christmas hams and eggnog lattes, IGA retailers know how to put holiday food front and center. At Jay’s IGA in Alma, Georgia, they’ve set up a display dedicated to candied fruit and other baking ingredients for whipping up delectable fruit cakes.
At Mt. Plymouth IGA in Sorrento, Florida, shoppers recently took advantage of a BOGO pumpkin and sweet potato pie deal (put them in the freezer and save them for special occasions). And people who aren’t up for spending a whole day in the kitchen can order an entire large ham dinner, which serves 12-15 people with all the sweet Southern fixings. Dinner includes: a 17-19 lb. smoked whole ham, sweet potato pecan casserole, green bean casserole, and Ambrosia salad.
No matter what your traditions, we hope they are memorable and filled with holiday cheer!