Quincy, Ill., Jeweler to Commit 100 Acts of Kindness
By Paul Holewa, Senior Editor
Posted on August 18, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Sturhahn
Photo courtesy of Steve Sturhahn
Steve Sturhahn, a third-generation store owner, is three weeks in to a three-month-long celebration of his store’s 100th anniversary.
This week’s Retailer Spotlight shines on Sturhahn and his Sturhahn Jewelers’ for hitting the century mark and their “100 Acts of Kindness” jewelry and watch giveaways.
The idea for the “100 Acts of Kindness” giveaways came from a fellow IJO member. His daughter Sarah Stegeman, co-owner of the Quincy, Ill., store and the family business’ social media manager, attended one of the buying group’s event six months ago. In a focus group, one store owner mentioned that to celebrate Valentine’s Day, he gave away inexpensive jewelry items at local area businesses.
In bringing back the idea to the store, Stegeman and her father decided to increase the value of the gifts being given away. The average retail price for Sturhahn Jewelers’ giveaway jewelry items is about $200–$250, with some items priced at $100 and $75, with others priced over the average amount, reaching $300–$400.
Another father-daughter spin on the idea was to stretch it out over a 10-week period to build up excitement in their market, ending the giveaway just before the more intense two-week celebration leading up to the centennial, Oct. 14.
The first giveaway happened July 27, when Sturhahn and his wife, Carol, handed out 10 presents to unsuspecting restaurantgoers at the neighborhood Panera Bread outlet. (The goal is to deliver gifts at a place and time of day when a business will be filled with potential gift recipients so everyone can see people to react to the acts of kindness.)
So far the venue of choice has been restaurants; a grocery store is planned in the near future. The family business owners are trying to come up with creative places to make their drops.
Most retailers would think the giveaways are an ideal way to clean house on old inventory. Not for Sturhahn. “Earlier this summer I met with my staff to determine what pieces they’d like to see given away as part of the 100 Acts celebration,” says Sturhahn. “They had some great ideas to include some nice, practical jewelry people would wear and enjoy receiving as a special gift.”
Sturhahn and his wife also sent out letters to about 35 of their top vendors asking them to donate pieces for the 100 giveaways. “Roughly 17 responded,” says Sturhahn. “Some donating very nice pieces.”
Roughly 75 to 80 of the 100 gifts have already been chosen. And about 50 or so are already wrapped. Stickers are tacked to each wrapped box denoting the appropriate gender/age match.
In addition to building momentum for their milestone anniversary in mid-October, the event is also a way to garner more friends, fans, and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Media Development, the store’s creative agency, has been working with Sturhahn, family members, and staff to build up the store’s fans on Facebook. Videos are shot each time Sturhahn and wife Carol commit their acts of kindness.
“The agency has been very good about editing the footage the same or the next day so we can immediately upload videos on YouTube, and then provide links on Facebook, and send out links via Twitter,” says Stegeman. “In the first week we had 15 new likes and by the third week we had 35.”
Stegeman and her parents are also pleased with the amount of buzz the event has been picking up on their Facebook wall. “A lot of people thank us for organizing the event, tell us how cool it is, and offer congrats,” says Stegeman. “But we like seeing the comments on the video as this event is being done in part to create a stronger presence on YouTube.”
Sturhahn estimates the 100 Acts of Kindness jewelry and watch giveaways will cost the store roughly $90,000 to $100,000. But the feedback from the community is priceless.
“The letters, emails, and calls mean a lot,” says Sturhahn. “But it’s a way to connect with the many people that both I and other family members have served over the years. Older customers tell me about their store experiences with my parents and my grandfather. That was something I never anticipated.”