RETAILERS SCORE WITH SPORTS COINS

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Sports-themed quarters at Piggly Wiggly here and at other major retailers across the country are inciting consumer excitement and spending. The promotion, which is also being held at Kroger, Stop & Shop and others, kicked off near the start of this year's football season.Piggly Wiggly, one of the banners of Fresh Brands here, has seen considerable success since the promotion's late-August

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Sports-themed quarters at Piggly Wiggly here and at other major retailers across the country are inciting consumer excitement and spending. The promotion, which is also being held at Kroger, Stop & Shop and others, kicked off near the start of this year's football season.

Piggly Wiggly, one of the banners of Fresh Brands here, has seen considerable success since the promotion's late-August launch. The quarters, which depict each member of the Green Bay Packers, have flown off the Wisconsin retailer's shelves, said Dave Dickelman, director of loyalty marketing.

"We started with over 12,000 quarters for all 60 of our stores," Dickelman said. "The Brett Favre quarters sold out within the first two weeks."

While Dickelman acknowledged Wisconsin's fervor for football as an impetus behind the sales, he also attributed the promotion's success to ads and to the $2 coupons for the $6.99 coins in the circulars. Even the local papers announced the start of the program. "Super Saver Sales [the company marketing the coins] had some ads in our local papers," Dickelman noted.

"They helped bring in more coin collectors and people we might otherwise not see." Fresh Brands' success is similar to what Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill., experienced when it first tested the campaign in its Indiana stores in fall 2004 with the Indiana Colts. Michael Levine, president of Super Saver Sales, Marietta, Ga., noted that Walgreens sold out its supply of 360 coins per store within a 10-day promotional period. Walgreens added Major League Baseball teams this year.

Darryl Abromowitz, president and chief executive officer of the Merrick Mint, Baldwin Harbor, N.Y., noted that the coins are a valuable investment for the consumer. Production is limited to 500 to 3,500 coins within a 10-week period for each player, driving the demand for coins. "As these coins become harder to find, they will only increase in value," Abromowitz said.