Phil Kajca is hoping for a white Christmas this year for a lot more than just the holiday spirit. J. Foster Jewelers Pegs $300,000 jewelrygiveaway.
The founder of J. Foster Jewelers in Maumee, Ohio, has made a big bet one he hopes to lose - that it won't snow four inches or more on Christmas Day, as measured at Toledo Express Airport.
If it does, Mr. Kajca said that J. Foster Jewelers will give back the full price of anything bought between November 13 and November 30. This includes diamondrings, goldbracelets, necklaces, watches, and other items.
It's a sale that the store has done every year for the last ten years. The goal is to increase sales in November and give customers a chance to win valuable items in case it snows on Christmas Day in the Toledo area.
So far, no payout.
Mr. Kajca said:
Contrary to what many people may think, we do want it to happen.- Mr. Kajca
The "Let It Snow Sales Event" contest is covered by insurance, so even if customers win, J. Foster Jewelers probably won't lose money.
Million Dollar Media, which is running the promotion, charges the store $6,000 for a $300,000 policy.
There's a reason for the number. Mr. Kajca said that was about how much the items bought during the contest period were worth.
He said that for that $6,000 investment and another $15,000 in radio advertising, the promotion brings in 20% more money in sales than it would have without the contest.
Also, he said, if the contest gets people who tend to put things off until the last minute to come in earlier, it will help the jeweler get rings and other keepsakes made and set before Christmas.
About 33% of sales happen during the Christmas season. Mr. Kajca said that more than half of sales are for weddings and engagements. This is because Christmas and New Year's Eve are two of the most popular times of the year to ask someone to marry you.
"We've skewed stronger in November," he said.
No one runs a bigger retail contest than "Mattress Mack," the owner of a furniture store in Houston.
Last month, Mr. McIngvale made headlines all over the world when he won a record $75 million bet that the Houston Astros baseball team would win this year's World Series.
Less well-known is the fact that Mr. McIngvale bet the money as a way to cover the nearly $75 million cost of a contest he ran at his three Gallery Furniture stores in Houston. If the Astros won the World Series, customers would get their money back for all purchases they made over a few weeks.
In a phone interview with The Blade on Thursday, he said that his stores ran out of stock before the Astros won the World Series, so he knew how much he needed to bet on the Astros to cover the possible losses at his stores. He is also a huge fan of the Astros.
In the end, he didn't lose any money. He owned a newscycle with his furniture stores. People came to the store because of the contest. And they were thrilled with how things turned out.
Mr. McIngvale said:
People like it when you give them their money back.- Mr. McIngvale
Mr. McIngvale, who promotes Gallery Furniture's focus on American-made furniture, said the company made similar contest payouts when the Astros won the World Series in 2017 and the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA Men's basketball title in 2022, though they were much smaller than this year's.
Mr. Kajca said that in the 26 years that J. Foster Jewelers has been open, the snow contest has been going on for the last ten.
In November, the store advertised on two Toledo radio stations: 92.5 KISS FM, which played top 40 hits, and K100 Country, which played country music.
Mr. Kajca said that the first helped reach people between the ages of 23 and 30 who were looking for wedding ringsand other items. The country station, on the other hand, reaches people of all ages.
Only one year went by before it rained enough at Toledo Express Airport to get close to the required 4 inches. But it almost happened when it snowed a lot on Christmas Eve and less on Christmas Day.
At that point, Mr. Kajca said, the store made it clear that it had to snow 4 inches from midnight to midnight on Christmas Day.
This year could be like 2015 when the now-defunct Art Van Furniture chainheld a "Let It Snow" promotion in Toledo and refunded nearly $400,000 to customers after a winning snowstorm.
"Let's hope," Mr. Kajca said.