Canada's Funny Money
When my friend Veronica, the fair Floridian, lived here and shared my life for a while, she loved to go to "the store that gives you money." This is our much loved Canadian Tire Stores, perhaps, second only to Tim Horton's Donuts as our favourite retailer. Both stores are national Canadian icons, holding our our country together, "from sea, to sea, to sea." much like the railroad and Eaton's Catalogue once did.
Canadian Tire Stores, which began as automotive supply distributer is a large retailer which rivals Walmart in Canada. When the American Walmart invaded Canada, Canadian Tire took up the retailing challenge and enlarged and expanded their stores to meet the challenge of the aggressive American invader.
I think Canadian Tire Money is a unique marketing device. I am not aware of any similar programs in North America. It had its origins in the days when gas stations gave out green stamps, or premium products like mugs, or toasters, or whatever to get you to buy your gas at their station. How we miss those days! I collected a lovely set of Canadiana mugs from the Shell Station. Now we are just grateful we can afford a 1/4 fill up with no premium offered. ( We even have to pump it ourselves.)
Except at the Canadian Tire stores and gas bars. When you make a non-credit card purchase, they give you Canadian Tire Money with your change. It is valued at 4% (of the purchase).
At the retail store, they often give you another coupon that directs the gas bar to give you up to four times the value of Canadian Tire Money. Oh, it adds up fast.
Canadians love their Canadian Tire money. They accumulate it to use for a special purchase. Or the kids play with it. Or they drop it in some charities jar on the counter. It fills the glove compartment in the car or the junk drawer in the kitchen until someone decides to use it. Some even collect it as a valuable Canadian memorabilia.
I would not think of going to the Canadian Tire Store without enough cash for my purchase so I could get the "Money". I have saved it until I had enough to purchase something for free (It feels like free). I have saved it for my grandchildren to use. I have even given it as a gift.
In our town, other retailers will honour Canadian Tire money at face value. This is their way of trying to capture some of Canadian Tire patrons to their store.
All of this came to mind this morning when CNN had a piece on how to save money at the gas bar. Some stations, in the US, are now giving a discount for cash payment. And so they should. All retailers save the credit card fee on every cash sale.
The Canadian Tire Money leaves everyone a winner. The store creates a loyal customer link to their store. The store gets more cash sales and avoids the credit card fee they have to pay. While the discount is 4% there is lots of Canadian Tire money that never is redeemed so the actual percentage for the store is a lot less. The customer feels they are getting a break and something for nothing. Canadian Tire Money has branded the stores like nothing else can and made it one of our favourite Canadian retailers.
It is a mystery to me why more retailers have not adopted this retailing program. I would have thought the more aggressive American retailers would have taken up this Canadian marketing technique.