Jewelry store party with Minions and Olaf

Susann’s Custom Jewelers

Corpus Christi, TX

Colton and Morgan Bartel attended an event at a bookstore last summer with London, their 1-year-old son, that was touted as a “Meet & Greet with Olaf,” the beloved snowman from the hit movie Frozen. They waited an hour only to discover the Olaf in question was a 2-foot-tall cardboard cutout. When they left, the line extended around the store. — Eileen McClelland

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of INSTORE.


THE IDEA

A COSTUME CONJURES UP AN EVENT

That night, they went home, immediately ordered up an Olaf costume online and began planning a two-day “Meet Olaf” event at their family jewelry store, Susann’s Custom Jewelers in Corpus Christi, TX, owned by Colton’s parents, Audie and Karla Bartel. Colton bravely agreed to don the costume, ensuring Olaf would be qualified to work in a jewelry store, with his graduate gemologist credentials.

Morgan says the store staff researched trademark restrictions and learned they could do a meet and greet as long as they did not use the name Disney in their promotions, and they did not directly profit by charging for photos with Disney characters, for example. “We do our meet and greets free of charge and typically provide free photos for all who come,” Morgan says.

Kids were “flabbergasted” to meet a “Minion” in “real life,” says organizer Morgan Bartel.

THE EXECUTION

DRAWING A CROWD WITH A $345 INVESTMENT

Obviously, they had proof that Olaf was a celebrity worth waiting for. And the Bartels knew a life-size, living, breathing Olaf would beat out a cardboard cutout any day. Yes, they wanted to draw a crowd, but they wanted that crowd to be excited and entertained — not disappointed.

Advertising through social media and networking with dozens of local groups, the family welcomed more than 250 people to the in-store event, most of whom had never visited the store before.

They spent $245 on the costume itself and $100 for extra decorations. They also used their arsenal of Christmas decor and made all the fliers, posters and invitations in the store.

“Honestly, we lucked out that we have a massive stock of decor and craft supplies,” Morgan says.

Because it was a two-day event, all 250 people did not arrive at the same time, so the Bartels were able to maintain their preferred level of customer service without being overwhelmed by an onslaught of Olaf fans. “It was a big deal to us to make each individual family feel special,” Morgan says. “We wanted it to be a magical experience for the kids.”

In addition to the costumed Olaf, they had five employees working during the event. The staff did everything possible to enhance the experience.

“We did have some scared and shy kiddos so we used a crown we dubbed the bravery crown and those kids became confident and ended up loving it,” Morgan says.

“One little girl dressed up like Olaf and another brought in two stuffed Olafs to include in her picture. Some people even drove all the way from Houston to come meet their favorite snowman, since their kids were obsessed with the movie.

“One girl saw Olaf and ran and jumped into his arms. Another girl licked him thinking he was real snow. Our favorite was a little 1-year-old boy who kept blinking and squinting trying to make sense of seeing a 6-foot snowman.”

Even the adults had a blast, Morgan says. “One lady came in with her “ugly” Christmas sweater to take her Christmas card photo. We even had a biker group come in, take pics, then invite Olaf outside to take pictures by their bikes so they could show their friends.

“The Selfie Station we had with props was also a blast. The kids couldn’t get enough of trying on funky sunglasses, tiaras and crowns; neither could the parents.”

Staff hung 180 balloons for the store’s second family event, which involved meeting a Minion, a character from Despicable Me.

THE REWARDS

HAPPY KIDS LEAD TO NEW CUSTOMERS

The store garnered huge publicity and exposure at a total investment of $345. And encouraging families to come to a jewelry store broke down threshold resistance and banished any notion of stuffiness. “It means a lot that so many families cultivated such sweet memories in our store,” Morgan says. “Some of those people were converted to new customers while there and we are just thrilled. Happy kids make for happy parents!” “Our sales were crazy in comparison with how they had been during this slow summer season. All in all this was one of our most successful events hands down! Now that the event has come to a close we are going to be taking Olaf to Driscoll Children’s Hospital to visit cancer patients.” The next character meet and greet event, held around Halloween time, involved a Minion (Colton, again) from “Despicable Me,” and was even more successful, sales wise. “The fact that we are doing this with genuine passion and adoration for our community is becoming more transparent to the community and it is so great that they are able to see us for who we really are — a Ma and Pa shop that would do anything to make our customers happy,” Morgan adds.

DO IT YOURSELF

Consider how a family friendly event could bring in a new demographic of potential customers.

Encourage people to have fun in your store.

Plan ways to expose your business to a large crowd without a big investment.

No matter what event you host, include a “selfie station.”