Bowling Industry Online

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In an never ending search to bring you interesting information about world class companies, I wanted to share the story of REI (Recreational Equipment Inc); a chain of sporing goods stores with over $1.4 billion in annual sales employing over 9500 employees. REI has been ranked in the top 100 Companies to work for in the United States by Fortune Magazine since 1998, which earned them a place in the Fortune Magazine's "Hall of Fame". REI ranked as #12 in 2009.[3]

Lloyd and Mary Anderson founded REI in Seattle, Washington in 1938. The Andersons imported an Academ Pickel ice axe from Austria for themselves, and decided to set up a cooperative to help outdoor enthusiasts acquire good quality climbing gear at reasonable prices. However, in the 1980s, with changes to its Board of Directors, the emphasis shifted toward family camping and branched out into kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports. Clothing, particularly "sport casual" clothes, also became a greater part of the company's product line. Although the company is still a cooperative, providing special services to its members, the "co-op" moniker has been dropped from much of its literature and advertising as it solicits business from the general public, even if they are not members.

Now here is the twist and here is how they develop a VERY loyal following

There is a one-time fee of $20 for lifetime membership to the co-op. REI normally pays an annual dividend check to its members equal to 10% of what they spent at REI on regular-priced merchandise in the prior year. The refund, which expires on December 31 two years from the date of issue, can be used as credit for further purchases or taken as cash or check between July 1 and December 31 of the year that the dividend is valid. Summaries of the financial statements are mailed with the member's dividend statement and are posted on the REI website.

Members are able to buy returned/used/damaged goods at significant discounts. Other benefits of REI membership include discounts on rentals and shop services, as well as rock wall access at locations that feature indoor climbing walls.

How can you apply this kind of marketing strategy to you bowling center or entertainment center? A store that gives money back to its customers for future purchases. If you think this is a great concept and you would like to implement something like this for your entertainment center or bowling center go to "www.bowlingrewards.com" and see for yourself what the future of bowling/entertainment marketing looks like.

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Comment by MICHAEL L. MONROE on November 18, 2009 at 8:49am
Very Cool Fred. How many centers are participating in the program? The most important thing I learned over the years from you and Bruce is to work the customers you have in the building, get to know them, find out their wants and needs as a customer. Develop programs to fit the needs to keep them coming back. This program fits that across the board.

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