Bringing customers into the store during the slower winter months is a challenge for many of us. This year our shop hopes to see a good return on the $10 gift cards we gave away on Small Business Saturday.  We noted on each card that it is only valid this in January, 2024, and customers seemed very excited about this promotion at the time. We gave away about 250 cards – I wonder how many we’ll get back?  

I’m intrigued by a red envelope “bounce back” promo done by our friends at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Uncle Mike’s is the home of the kringle (a type of Danish pastry) that won our North American Kringle Competition almost ten years ago, so ever since then they’ve allowed us to order a large quantity at wholesale for our popular Kringle Day in December. 

The red envelope promotion must work well for Uncle Mike’s, because they do it every year. The concept is that customers receive a red sealed envelope containing a mystery coupon with any purchase over $10 during the holidays. During January, they find out whether they’ve won a $100 gift card, kringle, bread, donuts or one of the bakery’s other popular products. Customers must bring in their envelope by January 31, and reveal the contents of their envelope/s in front of a clerk. Because only one coupon can be used per visit, the sales associate stamps any additional ones to indicate that it can be used up to the end of February. 

This means that everyone who acquired more than one will need to come back separate times during January and February, a smart way to encourage multiple visits during a slow time.  Everyone loves getting something for free, of course, but the added excitement built into this promotion is the chance to win a grand prize of a $100 gift card – and 15 of these were hidden in lucky envelopes. 

Uncle Mike’s undoubtedly decided on red envelopes because red is a popular holiday color, but there is also a tradition of red envelopes specific to the upcoming Lunar New Year. At that time it’s traditional to give a bright red envelope containing money to friends and family to represent good wishes and blessings for the year ahead. You could do a promotion by giving out sealed red envelopes containing a mystery coupon for gift cards or products during the first part of 2024. Explain to your customers that they can be opened in the store on February 10, in celebration of the Lunar New Year and as an expression of your good wishes for them.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder