SALEM, Ore. -- When Frey's Thriftway here wanted to spread the word about its new Marketplace status, owner Phil Frey called on the little blue men from Mars -- M&M Mars, that is.
According to Dale Williams, Thriftway's store director, Frey created the store's Blue M&M Grocery Giveaway after he spotted a 15-inch high, plastic M&M-man dispenser supplied by the manufacturer.
"[Frey] talked to the M&M Mars rep, and they came up with getting enough of those guys so we could do it," said Williams.
Dispensers were placed at each checkout. Thriftway employees filled each dispenser with M&Ms, but included only a controlled number of the new blue ones. On March 30, customers could win $25, $50, or $100 gift certificates, if they were lucky enough to receive a blue M&M at the checkout. Williams told SN that when store clerks pulled the M&M man's arm, a handful of M&Ms would fall out for the customers to catch. "If you got a blue M&M in your handful," said Williams, "you got to pick from some envelopes full of different gift certificates." There were seven blue M&Ms given out during the course of the day-long promotion.
Though no advertising was done prior to the event, a local radio station broadcast from the store during the promotion, announcing the names of the winners.
The Marketplace designation for the store took some time in coming. Though the store opened last June equipped with all required Marketplace services and departments, it had to be granted approval by the Thriftway Marketplace Board before officially adding the word to its name.
"You have to qualify with the board," said Williams. "They have to do all the reviews of service and customers and the whole bit." Frey's is a member of United Grocers, the cooperative wholesaler based in Portland, Ore.