The Russ’s Community Harvest Festival was designed as a chance to bring the neighborhood around Russ’s Market together for a celebration. It was also designed to be an avenue for Russ’s Community to support local area schools. We tested the program twice, once in the fall with a single store, and once in the spring with two stores holding an event simultaneously, and partnering with a grand total of 12 schools at the time. On October 18th, 2015, we held the Russ’s Community Harvest Festival, hosting carnivals at all seven of our Russ’s Market stores simultaneously, and partnering with a grand total of 38 neighborhood elementary schools. We worked with the school district to distribute flyers to students. The flyers advertised the festival and provided an offer for Russ’s Market to donate 10% of the sale from their trip to their school’s PTO, if they shop on the day of the festival. Each store had a large scale carnival, complete with an array of games, activities, foods, and marquee level events (e.g. a BMX stunt show, Star Wars characters, the bookmobile, etc.). We also contacted each of the non-profits participating in the Russ’s Community Rewards program to participate, and many of them staffed games and activities.
The B&R Stores home office reached out to and coordinated with 38 different Lincoln and Hastings area elementary schools to create a fundraiser where 10% of a sale will go to the school’s Parent Teacher Organization with redemption of a flyer. We printed 16,000 flyers and worked with the schools (along with LPS and HPS District Offices) to distribute them in student folders. On October 18th, all Russ’s Market stores held carnivals simultaneously, with at least 10-20 events and activities available for families at each store. These included large events, such as a BMX stunt show, Star Wars characters, the bookmobile, a bounce house, a video game theater unit, and fire trucks. At the event, teams from 16 different local non-profits volunteered at the carnival, staffing games, providing activities, and sharing their stories with members from the community. Some teachers also volunteered to make the event a success.
Over the past year, we’ve been working to grow the idea of Russ’s Community from simply a rewards program into a movement of people who work together to make their neighborhoods a better place. The primary goal of the Russ’s Community Harvest Festival was to create a large-scale recurring event that brought the community together (customers, associates, and non-profit organizations), and built our reputation as a hub for the neighborhood. Our second goal was to build relationships with local schools and create an avenue for Russ’s Community to support them. Our third goal was to create an event that would build morale among associates; something they would look forward to, have fun preparing for, and be excited to execute. The idea of the program was to build long-term relationships through the years – with our local schools, with our associates, with local non-profits, and with the families in our neighborhoods.
During the event, over 600 flyers were redeemed, generating over $2,600 in donation for the schools and their PTOs. For many of the schools that participated in the test programs last fall and this spring, there was growth in participation and redemption. Between the test programs and the Harvest Festival, a grand total of over $4,200 was generated for Lincoln and Hastings Elementary schools. Beyond that, the programs succeeded in building morale among associates. “It was something that my associates were excited about and looking forward to,” says Chris Piper, the Store Director for the Highway 2 Russ’s Market. “I was even seeing some growth in department sales during the week leading up to the event, and department managers were attributing it to the excitement their team had while gearing up for the event.” However, the most exciting and encouraging impact we made was on the relationships built between the stores and their neighborhood families. We have received strong feedback from families in person, through emails, and on social media thanking us for putting on a wonderful event, and talking about how much fun their family had. We are excited to take this momentum and turn the event into something that the entire community knows about and looks forward to, building Russ’s Market’s into a an anchor for the neighborhood around them.
“The relationship between the stores and their neighborhoods has always been at the core of who Russ’s Market is. We are excited to build that strength with Russ’s Community, and with the Russ’s Community Harvest Festival in particular.”
- Pat Raybould, President and CEO, B&R Stores, Inc.
“We were excited to take part in the Russ’s Community Harvest Festival. We worked to inform the members of our Parent Teacher Organization, the families of our students, and the neighborhood surrounding our school. Our staff, as well as members of our PTO, volunteered to work shifts at the Festival, connecting with families and encouraging shoppers to support our school. We are a school that is very connected to our community, and Russ’s Market is a store that is very connected to the community as well. We are excited by the Harvest Festival and we look forward to making it better in the future.” - Ruth Ann Wylie, Principal, Prescott Elementary School