For years, Sally Wizik Wills and her daughter, Jennifer Wills Geraedts, ran individual bookstores in the same town. Sister Wolf Books and Beagle Books & Bindery are located six miles from each other in Park Rapids, MN. When Sister Wolf celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, it provided an opportunity for the two stores to combine, although Sally was hesitant to do so. Then a lightning strike and fire to a neighboring restaurant caused a dramatic drop in sales. Sally says, “Even though it had been hard emotionally to think of combining the stores, we’re so glad we had an exit plan in place.”
The physical move took place after Sister Wolf closed for the season last fall. The “new” store will be renamed and they’ll have a grand reopening Memorial Day weekend, but in the meantime, they’re enjoying the melding of the store images. In fact, they introduced a new program at their Night-In event in January called Paws Points.
At the Night-In event, every attendee received a “Paws Points Events Card” in their goody bag. Jennifer designed the punch card to feature both a beagle and wolf paw print, and she’s able to print them in-house. Customers only have to print their name on the card and turn it in at the cash register–the store holds on to the cards for the customers. When they have a card complete with 10 punches, participants receive a free book.
“We rolled out the program at our Night-In event. When I told the attendees that attending book group would count on the punch card, an audible ‘YES! We’re really going to rack up punches this summer!’ was heard,” Jennifer says. “The first book group to get punches on cards was our Current Events book group. One member cried out, ‘I just can’t believe you’re doing this, it’s so generous!'”
Although the program is new, Sally and Jennifer are already pleased with results. “A couple came in to pick up special orders during the National Read-a-thon. We gave punches for Read-a-thon participants,” Jennifer says. “The wife of the couple said, unprompted, ‘Hey! We should stay and read to get punches on our cards!’ This more than anything feels like a success.”
Any advertising in the local newspaper will include a mention of the punch card, and the store owners are also sending reminders through social media, similar to the post shown below.
“Once the first card is filled, I plan to make a big deal of it,” Jennifer says, “take a picture of the person & his/her card – post it on the website, social media, and do a press release.”