Long lines. Frantic Students. Rush can be a hectic time for everyone, on both sides of the bookstore counter. For many students, the combination of a new semester beginning, finding all of the right books and then having to buy them makes it an especially stressful time. This year, the staff at the UVU Bookstore found a clever way to allay some of that stress for their customers, and gave one lucky student a big surprise.
As students waited in line to check out, staff members handed out free, customized fortune cookies. Instead of a fortune,
“We started doing it during the fall semester with smaller prizes, but this is the first semester we had free books as a prize,” said Ben Nielson, the store’s Web content creator. “In addition to the grand prize of free textbooks, we had a lot of other smaller prizes like discounts on apparel and school supplies and free drinks.”
Other prizes included pencils, pens, styluses and soccer balls. The staff handed out about 3000 cookies over the course of the week to the delighted students.
“Some people have been really happy just to get a free fortune cookie, but when the workers tell them there are bookstore prizes inside they’re even more excited,” Nielson said. “It’s really fun to see the people politely decline a fortune cookie then change their mind when they find out there’s a prize in every one.”
Instead of spending a lot of time promoting the giveaway, the staff simply assumed that students would hear about it through the campus grapevine.
“We wanted this to seem more like a special treat for the small prizes and a huge surprise for the winner who had his entire purchase paid for, so we just let word-of-mouth take care of it,” Nielson explained.
Because of the overwhelmingly positive response, the store plans to repeat the event again in the fall.
“The students like the cookies even if they don’t win big, but the free book winner was so happy!” Nielson said. “Next fall we’ll be doing the same thing with smaller prizes and pay for the purchases of two winners — one during each of our two busiest days — instead of just the one.”
For other stores who might want to run a similar promotion, Nielson has some advice:
“Keep the supplies handy; the fortune cookies ran out pretty fast when we had a long line!”