Rising to the Occasion

Cathy Fleck, of Occasions Fine Jewelry, in Midland, Texas, squeezed as much promotional potential a jeweler could possibly get out of her sixth annual November Girl’s Night Out party. It was not only a holiday get-together for women to complete wish lists but also a gold-buying event to benefit a local nonprofit clinic.

Fleck has donated $5 for every completed wish list along with proceeds from watch battery replacements to the nonprofit Community Children’s Clinic, on whose board her husband serves. But when CCC exceeded its 2009 budget because of increased demand for the Tamiflu drug and flu testing supplies, Fleck decided to add gold buying to her Girl’s Night Out event to raise money for the clinic.

The fall event not only got the clinic through a temporary budgetary problem but also came at an opportune time for Fleck to further promote her new gold buying policy. The petroleum industry drives the Midland economy, and when oil prices dropped in the early part of 2009, the town suffered layoffs. Fleck started heavily advertising gold buying in June. Market response has been good, which helped make Girl’s Night Out even more successful.

A week before Thanksgiving, 85 women attended the party, which featured wine and refreshments including Fleck’s own Pirates’ Gold Punch.

The gold theme didn’t stop with the punch. Gold chocolate coins littered the store, and gift bags included seasonal 24k dipped holly leaves from the 24 Karat Rose Co. as well as cosmeticsfrom a local salon and gourmet chocolates.

Volunteers from the clinic handed out plastic baggies to women as they entered the store. Bags were labeled with essential information starting with the customer’s name and the number of gold pieces of jewelry each person was looking to refine. Partygoers had three options when turning in their gold: a tax-deductable donation of the total value of the gold; cash outright; or a 50 percent added-value store credit.

To allow her customers to realize the exact benefits of donating gold to the clinic, Fleck separated the Girl’s Night Out gold from other gold-buying transactions. The store owner even worked out a separate refining batch with her vendor exclusively for the 598.04 pennyweight in gold Fleck and her staff took in during the event.

Fleck estimated that her first Girl’s Night Out/gold buying event realized $6,814 in profits, all of which went to the clinic. The $2,500 cost of mailing 1,500 invitations, catered food, beverages, and the gift bags came out of Fleck’s promotional budget.