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A Texas Jeweler’s Feel-Good Holiday Brainstorm Turns Into a Major Promotional Event

She began leaving little jewelry gifts around her community. But it turned into something much more.



A boy who found one of Occasions’ stockings at the mall poses on Santa’s lap with his mother.

CATHY FLECK of Occasions Fine Jewelry in Midland, TX, heard about Bailey’s Fine Jewelry’s “Finders Keepers” marketing idea a few years ago during a Continental Buying Group meeting. Trey Bailey of North Carolina had decided to leave free gifts in the store’s trademark Bailey’s gift boxes all around town at the height of the recession.

Fleck thought it was something positive she’d like to try for herself in West Texas. So, she took some odds and ends of merchandise, stashed them in pretty packaging, and began to leave them around the cities of Midland and nearby Odessa with a note.

“It was a feel-good moment in not-so-feel-good times,” she says. “I didn’t advertise it or discuss it. It made me feel good.” Once in a while, someone would call to thank her, but it wasn’t initially a big promotion.



An Accidental Scavenger Hunt

When she told her marketing expert, Roy Williams, about what she’d been doing, though, he suggested running a holiday ad, saying “Santa needs a little help,” and revealing her giveaway efforts. Suddenly, people began calling her, asking if she was going to provide clues to the treasures. Although she hadn’t thought about that, she decided, why not? “Let’s make it a scavenger hunt.”



“So Perfect It Was Like It Was Staged”

For Christmas 2010, she placed Occasions Fine Jewelry stockings in various locations — including a Christmas display at the mall — with a silver angel-wing necklace inside. Then she posted funny clues on the store’s Facebook page for fans to ponder.

A local radio station also promoted the clues.

On Christmas Eve, she posted one final clue designed so that the final winner would enter the store singing “Silent Night.” The clue was something like this: On this night in 1818, composer Franz Gruber’s Christmas song was first performed. Be the first one to sing this song at Occasions and you’ll win the top prize (a diamond studded version of the pendant valued at about $500).

“I called the TV station and told them what we were doing,” Fleck says. “The news station came to interview me in the store, and I said, ‘I promise you someone will walk in the door 10 minutes after I post this.’

Just as we got the cameras rolling, the door springs open and a 7-year-old kid bursts in the door singing ‘Silent Night’ at the top of his lungs. We all screamed. It was so perfect it was like it was staged. Matt Chappell, the 7-year-old, said he wanted the angel wing for his mommy, and his mommy, Christy Chappell, was there with him. That part was fun.”




Hundreds of Fans and Lots of PR

The holiday promotion brought the store hundreds of new Facebook fans and lots of free PR during the most important season of the year. “It was fun watching people follow the clues and try to guess where it was,” Fleck says. The hard part was finding the time to plan clues, hide jewelry and leave the store during the busiest time of the year. “If you are good at organizing it would be a piece of cake.” If Fleck were to do it again, she’d enlist more help.


Occasions staff prepare for their role as “gift-wrap fairies” during the holiday rush.

Do It Yourself: Hold Your Own Scavenger Hunt

  • If you don’t have time to plan and execute this type of an event around Christmas, consider contracting with a public relations firm or take it to the next level with SCVNGR (, which manages city-wide “diamond dashes” using mobile devices, to promote jewelry stores.
  • But if you do want to do it yourself, plan out your strategy and all of the clues before beginning the game, to avoid the stress that Fleck encountered. Brainstorm with your staff.
  • In addition to posting clues using Facebook and Twitter, see if you can, as Fleck did, garner free publicity from local media.
  • If you’re hiding jewelry at the mall, Fleck says, be sure to alert security. Odessa mall security guards had not been informed and were not amused when they saw people, in response to a clue, suddenly begin tearing apart the shopping center’s Christmas display!

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