Potato month sales provides boost to Potato Museum

Eric McCarthy
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ELMSDALE  -- A joint Potato Month promotion by Sobeys stores in Atlantic Canada and the grocery chain’s major supplier of high-end potatoes has netted the Canadian Potato Museum lots of tourism exposure and a $22,500 contribution.

Kevin Kane, from left, produce specialist for Sobeys stores in P.E.I. and Northern Nova Scotia, and John Griffin, president of WP Griffin Inc., present Canadian Potato Museum board members with a $22,500 from a Potato Month sales promotion Accepting the cheque are, from third left, Stanley MacDonald, Bill MacKendrick and Eric Phillips. The promotion also provided the museum with free marketing exposure.

Sobeys and potato packager WP Griffin Inc. of Elmsdale made a 25-cent contribution to the Potato Museum for every specially marked 10-pound bag of Heritage Russet potatoes sold in Sobeys stores in Atlantic Canada during February.

Last year the two companies raised $49,000 for the museum.

“It’s a huge financial contribution to help us continue improving the museum,” said Stanley MacDonald, president of the museum’s board of directors. “It’s a great help to the museum.

The financial boost is only part of the benefit the museum receives from the promotion. The specially marked bags direct customers to a website where they can learn more about the Potato Museum and where they can enter a contest for a chance to win a trip to P.E.I. and the Potato Museum. There were more than 2,800 online entries.

Other partners in the promotion were P.E.I. Tourism, Golf PEI, Rodd Mill River Resort, Fresh Media, P.E.I. Potato Board and P.E.I. Bag Company.

Christa Geldart from Turtle Creek, NB is this year’s grand prize-winner, of a summer weekend package for two at the Rodd Mill River Resort. The package includes three days, two nights stay at the resort, two meals, two rounds of golf and pro shop gift certificates. Other prizes in the promotion were nine Sobeys $100 gift cards, 25 kitchen sets from the Potato Board and 25 Flavours of Prince Edward island Culinary Journey cookbooks. All 60 of the prizes also included free admission to the museum.

That exposure means much for the museum, said MacDonald who noted attendance to O’Leary’s primary tourist attraction keeps increasing.

“You get your name out there,” said MacDonald in pointing out the other benefit the promotion provides to the museum.

Kevin Kane, produce specialist for Sobeys stores in P.E.I. and Northern Nova Scotia, said the promotion has been so successful for two consecutive years that he anticipates it could be repeated. “Any time you can help a community raise $22,500, it’s a huge success,’ he said.

John Griffin, president of WP Griffin Inc., said his company moved 18 tractor trailer loads of potatoes in February in support of the promotion alone.

Museum board member Bill MacKendrick had approached Griffin late in 2012 about a poeato promotion in support of the museum. Griffin tweaked his proposal and helped come up with the Sobey’s Griffins Potato Month promotion.

MacDonald is not ruling out some sort of display at the museum to acknowledge the two companies contributions. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to another year of increased visits to the museum and strong sales at the museum’s gift shop and potato-themed restaurant. 

Organizations: Sobeys, Potato Museum, Mill River Resort P.E.I. Potato Board

Geographic location: P.E.I., Atlantic Canada, Turtle Creek

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