Quincy, Ill., Jeweler to Commit 100 Acts of Kindness



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.)

Videos taken during gift giveaways are quickly edited for uploads to social
media websites.

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.”