Kingsford Self Service, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is the only station in town. Literally.
There’s no place else for nearby residents and cross-state commuters (Kingsford is about two miles from the Wisconsin border) to grab their favorite snacks, drinks and lottery tickets. The other stations are on the highway.
The local high school is within walking distance. So is the county sheriff’s department.
That makes the station’s convenience store a popular stop for, well, just about everybody, says Evelyn Vassar, the station’s longtime manager.
“We have good traffic in the morning; people heading to work and of course kids going to school,” Vassar says. “We know the majority of our customers on a first-name basis.”
The station’s roots date back to the 1950s when the city of Kingsford was known as the former location of a Ford Motor Co. factory. It produced wooden automobile components and glider parts used by the Allies in World War II. The well-known Kingsford Charcoal brand also got its start there.
Vassar says that approximately 700 customers pass through the convenience store on South Carpenter Avenue each day. While there, they grab a coffee, hot sandwich, or cold beverage on their way to or from work. The store has a motto that reflects its standing in Kingsford: “Fueling the community with food and fuel.”
Besides those two essentials, another item that customers buy plenty of is 5-hour ENERGY®. Vassar estimates that the store sells five boxes a week — “at least.” Twelve to 15 shot varieties are always neatly displayed in a rack next to the front register, so they’re within easy reach of customers. Berry and Grape are the most popular flavors, she says, adding that the store purchases the shots through a local distributor.
Even though 5-hour ENERGY is a best-seller at Kingsford Self Service, as the manager, Vassar says she’s always looking for ways to boost sales of the high-profit item. So when the Retailer Rewards program started sending her quarterly merchandising kits in early 2020, she thought the 5-hour ENERGY-branded clothing and accessories they contained could be the foundation for a customer promotion.
The campaign was simple: Every time customers bought two or more bottles, employees would enter them into a drawing to win 5-hour ENERGY merchandise such as hats, keychains and insulated drink containers. The more times they bought 5-hour ENERGY, the more entries they’d receive.
To promote the sweepstakes in-store, Vassar says she wanted to create something fun and eye-catching. Drawing inspiration from snack food brand mascots, she and her co-workers decided to dress an inflatable Berry Flavor 5-hour ENERGY bottle from a merchandising kit. They put a branded knit cap on its “head,” a lanyard around its “neck,’ and finished with a pair of black sunglasses for its “face.”
“All of a sudden, he just kind of came to life,” Vassar says.
“Barry Berry” was born
Soon, the inflatable, unofficial 5-hour ENERGY mascot became the face of the store’s sales campaign. The sweepstakes ran from mid-July through September 2021. On a sign attached to the sales rack, Barry Berry told customers, “Buy any two 5-hour ENERGY and enter to win.” Prizes included a six-pack of Tropical Burst Extra Strength, branded fanny packs, a 16-ounce travel mug, and a towel.
The 5-hour ENERGY shots and merchandise were assembled into five prize packs. They were awarded to customers in a random drawing after the promotion ended. About 125 entries were received.
Vassar says Barry Berry and the sweepstakes were a hit with customers.
“Everybody was tickled pink with their prizes,” she says.
Based on anecdotal evidence from Evelyn’s observations, she’s confident it had an impact.
“I’m sure it has,” she says. “Someone who normally bought one (bottle) bought two.”
Vassar says she hopes to run the same campaign next year. She’s just waiting for more promotional items from Retailer Rewards.
“If you guys send out more stuff, I’m sure we will,” she says.
If your location has run a similar promotion, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.orgEnergy.
We would love to hear about the promotion and possibly feature your location on the 5-hour ENERGY® Retailer Rewards site at a later date.