Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Retailers Say Goodbye to Bags

Posted by admin on 9/15/11 11:00 PM
Topics: college retail, sustainability

In 2007, San Fransisco passed a law that banned plastic bags from all the city's grocery stores and pharmacies. Since then, cities across the United States, including Washington D.C., Boston, Portland, and Phoenix, are considering similar restrictions.

Along with the legal aspect, many retailers are encouraging the use of reusable bags through Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) programs to better their eco-friendly image and cut down on costs, as well. But, consumers are busy and, some days, remembering to bring their wallet along with them can be challenging enough.

So, how can retailers encourage consumers to participate in these programs without gaining negative response? offers some creative tactics to consider:

Donate to charity.
National consignment shop Buffalo Exchange has saved millions of bags through its Tokens for Bags program. At checkout, customers are offered a 5-cent token instead of a bag. As customers leave the store, they walk by boxes labeled with various charities and choose where to deposit their token. For each token dropped, Buffalo Exchange donates 5 cents to that charity, helping build goodwill with the community and positioning the store as a socially conscious organization.

Discount the purchase. Some retailers, such as those in Washington, DC, are charging consumers five cents for every plastic or paper bag used. But others are using a positive rewards method by offering a five to ten cent discount on the overall purchase price for every bag the customer brings.

Create a raffle.
Some Trader Joe’s locations encourage customers to use their own bags by handing out raffle tickets to win a $25 Trader Joe’s gift card each time they use their own bag instead of disposables. Trader Joe's has some serious fans and the possibility of winning free groceries adds a layer of excitement and suspense each time they visit the store.

Sell reusable bags.
One advantage to BYO bag programs is that they offer an inexpensive way to create brand awareness and do a little advertising. All you need to do is sell your own bags featuring your logo, as retailers like TJ Maxx and Whole Foods do. Bonus: Better bags get used more frequently as customers use them for lunch sacks or shopping at other stores, increasing your branding power.

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