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Small Iowa general store breaks all-time sales record. Here's how.

Small Iowa general store breaks all-time sales record. Here's how.

January 25, 2009

Best Idea Contest Runner-Up

In a small Iowa town of 5,000 people where Max Boren sells everything from tires to TVs and from refrigerators to washing machines in the dead of winter, you would never think he would be coming off his best month ever. But that's exactly what happened.

November was the third biggest month at Smitty's store in Manchester but Boren topped that in December and increased sales by 30% to $474,000. 'I'm a dreamer and never even dreamed that we would do $400,000,' Boren says. Started in the 1950s by his father, Smitty's is an old Firestone store where his dad sold tires, toasters and appliances, but mostly tires. Even today, tires are where the rubber hits the road for the store.

But as sales started slipping earlier this year, Boren went back to what's worked and started pushing tires again. 'Every tire, every size, every time.' Specifically, he promoted his '4 for 3' marketing campaign in which he offered three tires and get the fourth free on any make or brand. While competitors sometimes offer a fourth tire free, they'll also charge for mounting and balancing. Smitty's doesn't. Customers pay for three mountings and balancing ' not four.

He promoted the campaign in his ads and on the radio and even though the tire industry is seeing sales down 12%-15%, Boren bucked the trend and generated enough traffic through the store to post the best month ever in December. So far, this month sales are just as strong as last January.