National Jeweler Network

Retail Profiles

Labor Day’s raining has Ala. jeweler paying

2013-09-04

Gardendale, Ala.--The rain that fell on Birmingham, Ala. on Labor Day will cost one local jeweler, or rather one insurance company, more than $86,000 due to a rain refund promotion held during the month of August.

According to a story on AL.com, a website that draws content from three Alabama newspapers, Jeff Dennis Jewelers in Gardendale guaranteed a full refund to customers who purchased jewelry at his suburban Birmingham store between Aug. 1 and 26 if it rained more than one inch on Labor Day.

Anyone who bought something, whether it was $25 or $7,000, was eligible to receive a refund.

It was early on Monday when Dennis realized he would be paying up; by 10:53 a.m., the National Weather Service’s website measured 1.42 inches of rain at its monitoring station at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, the contest’s official gauge, according to AL.com.

Dennis said that once that amount is certified by the National Weather Service and verified by HCC Specialty Underwriters, the company that insured the retailer for the contest, a total of 592 customers will be eligible for cash refunds totaling $86,285.

The jeweler could not be reached for comment Tuesday by National Jeweler; the message on the answering machine at his store indicated that perhaps Monday’s downfall made for a busy Tuesday. The store was using its Facebook page as one tool to keep customers apprised of how the refund process would work.

While it might seem insane to some jewelers to offer to refund all sales for almost an entire month, Dennis told AL.com that the insurance policy covering the promotion only cost him, “a little bit more” than he would normally spend on advertising and promotions for a month.

The promotion likely was just as, if not more, effective. He said he expects the refunds, and subsequently his store, were the talk of many Labor Day picnics, he saw a bump in his Facebook fan base and may see many of those who got their money back returning to the store to splurge.

One local woman who was getting $300 back after buying a necklace at the store told AL.com that she plans to do just that. “I’ll probably go in there and find something that costs over $300 and tell myself it’s a great deal. I think it’s a woman thing. If it’s half-off, it’s a great deal, no matter what it costs,” she said.

Dennis is not the first retailer to run a money-back promotion based on something that is entirely out of their control.

In fact, it was Dennis who offered customers a refund this past November if one team got shut out in the Iron Bowl, the annual college football game between intrastate rivals Auburn University and the University of Alabama. Lloyd’s had to pay up that time, too, because the Crimson Tide spanked Auburn, 49 to 0.

In December 2010, Perry’s Emporium in Wilmington, N.C. had to pay back more than $400,000 after it snowed a surprising six inches in nearby Asheville, N.C. on Christmas Day.

In addition, a number of other jewelers have run, or continually run, refunds on bridal jewelry to couples if it rains on their wedding day, such as Illinois retailer Bremer Jewelers.