Discount Retailer Keeps it Simple & Profitable with Pinups


This week kicks-off the 6th year that Rhode Island-based Ocean State Job Lots will sell cause marketing pinups to benefit cancer care at my hospital. You can read all about how a delivery of 40,000 pounds of frozen chicken in 2003 turned into one of the most successful corporate partnerships in our history.

For all the different types of point-of-sale programs my cause marketing team executes this one is perhaps the simplest. There are no coupons. There are no cross-promotions with other retailers. The pinup is not connected with any special event.

Still, to date the OSJL pinup program has raised $640,000 for my hospital. Here's how.

Top-down approach. Ocean State Job Lots is a privately held family business. The CEO, Marc Perlman, takes a keen interest in the success of the pinup program and personally monitors how each store is progressing. He praises those that are doing well, and encourages those that aren't to do better.

Employees have drunk the cause cool-aid. Thanks to Marc and his family the employees at their 92 stores know how important my hospital is to the Perlmans and the community we serve. Marc monitors their progress, but this is really a self-motivated group. Here's how I know. When some stores ran out of pinups a couple years ago they didn't wipe their brow and exclaim "We're done!". No, they reprinted pinups on the store's copy machine and kept raising money until they were restocked.

They ask for more than a buck. Pinups generally sell for a specific dollar amount--a buck, but sometimes more. OSJL cashiers ask shoppers to give what they can. And this often leads to more than a buck! Ocean State employees know that OSJL shoppers are caring and generous. They know their customers well.

Pinups are just a small part of what Ocean State Job Lots and the Perlmans do for us.

One of the most welcomed sights here at my hospital is seeing a Job Lots eighteen-wheel truck backing up to our loading dock. Everyone knows it has food and coats and supplies for the hospital.

Ocean State Job Lots is a discount retailer with a premium reputation for giving.