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TOPIC: Unlimited popcorn buckets

Unlimited popcorn buckets 19 Oct 2004 13:26 #26931

  • puzzlegut
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I was wondering if anyone has done an unlimited popcorn refill bucket type of thing. We've seen one theater do it where you buy a plastic bucket for $20 and everytime you bring it back to the theater, you can get it refilled for free. We ordered a case of these and we'll try to sell them. Hopefully enough people will buy them.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 19 Oct 2004 18:04 #26932

  • muviebuf
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I once did that sort of thing with promotional plastic soda cups - they had the theatre name and phone number on them - 10 years later I am still getting some of them for refills. I won't do that again.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 19 Oct 2004 23:16 #26933

  • rodeojack
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Sounds like the grocery store receipt coupon I did years ago. That's where I learned the value of the expiration date!!!
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 19 Oct 2004 23:26 #26934

  • RoxyVaudeville
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I'm not sure that I understand what it is that you would be doing. When they buy the tub and bring it back do they pay to have it filled once and then get all the free refills that they want, or do they get free pop corn just for bringing the cup? If that is the case, why on earth would you do that?

I realize that once they buy the tub, that they would be more inclined to return to your theatre over others so as to get the free pop corn, and might come more often just to get something free, but I doubt that in the long run it would prove profitable.

Pop corn is where we make our money... why give it away. I'd rather give away a discount ticket coupon with each pop corn purchased to get them to come back and then pay full price again for the pop corn. You get to keep a much larger share of the pop corn sales.

I agree with what muviebuf said. You will get them for years and years, maybe even decades, and if you don't honor them, the patron will be upset.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 20 Oct 2004 11:44 #26935

  • Ken Layton
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Popcorn is your highest profit item and it's what keeps your theater open. Why give it away?

What you could do is have a free refill on the largest size once only, good for the day of purchase only.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 20 Oct 2004 16:56 #26936

  • trackfood
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I agree, don't give away the biggest profit item...Certainly not for a long time either. Maybe what you could do is do it for a limited time. "Summer Popcorn Special" "Buy this tub for $20 and bring it back all summer for free refills..." You'd probably still lose out, because the only ones who would really shell out that kind of money would be your REGULAR customers who would have bought a corn each time anyway.At least get something out of the deal, how about bring it back for "buck" refills all summer...

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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 20 Oct 2004 23:05 #26937

  • puzzlegut
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Thanks for all of the replies. I personally was not into the idea of doing the buckets but my partner is real gun-ho about the whole thing.

I can see some of your points about doing that sort of stuff. We've had some experience doing similiar things at our single screen. We had a coupon in a monthly newspaper for about 4 years which gave out one free small popcorn. Even though most people bought there popcorns, we did have quite a few of these coupons that came back. We discontinued the ad this past summer and even though the number of coupons that came back were down from before, we still get people that bring in coupons from old issues because we have no expiration dates. Since most of the people buy a pop with their free popcorn, it wasn't too bad of a thing to do.

A few years ago, we sold insulated Pepsi cups with a refill policy. People would buy the cups (I think we sold them for $4) and everytime they brought it back, they could refill it for $1.50 each time. This was back when we didn't do a refill policy. Currently we do $0.25 refills so whenever a person brings back the cups, they get the first refill for $1.50 and each additional refill for $0.25. These cups sold pretty well and currently, only a handful of people ever bring them back.

My partner also thought that instead of selling the buckets for $20 with unlimited refills, we sell the buckets for a reduced price and charge for the refills. Our supplier that sold us the buckets said that they will not last forever so we hopefully wouldn't have a problem of having people bring them back in 50 years. If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions, I would like to hear them.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 21 Oct 2004 09:01 #26938

  • Big Guy
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When LOTR:Return of the King came out, we sold large plastic buckets for $6, and allowed $1 refills for 2 months. The $6 was a huge profit (and about $2 more than our normal large corn), and we were giving about 10 cents of corn, oil, and butter away for the $1 each refill. Saw our per-cap rise from about $2.50 to about $2.80 during that time. Did it again for Spiderman 2 and saw a similar increase. Each time we sold out of about 250 buckets in one week!

Remember that corn is cheap, and almost every popcorn purchase creates a drink purchase, another high-profit item. We are looking into doing this refillable bucket permanently, with a new bucket design each year, requiring a new $6 investment to keep getting the $1 refills. The buckets will cost more than normal promo buckets, as we will have custom artwork done for each one, but it's a relatively small investment if it creates some loyalty (and with a big chain opening a 14 plex in our little town, we're gonna need the help!)

[This message has been edited by Big Guy (edited October 21, 2004).]

[This message has been edited by Big Guy (edited October 21, 2004).]
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 16 Mar 2006 09:31 #26939

What I would do is sell the first bucket for 20.00 when a movie like Harry Potter played. Then knowing that there would be more Potter films that were going to be shown, tell the patrons that if they came to the other Potter films with their bucket we would fill it for free. That way you're not roped into giving your product away at every showing.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 16 Mar 2006 12:32 #26940

  • puzzlegut
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Well, this was quite awhile ago, but we ended up returning the buckets and never tried selling them. Probably better that way.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 16 Mar 2006 13:19 #26941

  • rodeojack
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Ken mentioned a program that we've been doing here since before we bought the place (in 1986).

Large popcorn gets one free refill. The customer can bring his container back for the refill on a later date, as long as the container is usable (no motor oil & cat hair).

By far, the large size has always been our most popular... outselling other sizes 4/1.

Last year, we added a popper to the other end of our counter. On busy Summertime nights, they're both going full-tilt.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 16 Mar 2006 23:29 #26942

  • Pieman
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Isn't it a bit un-hiegenic(sp?) to be putting a bucket that someone has eaten out of back into the popcorn machine?? eww..I wouldn't do it..you never know where their hands have been
we do soda refills for $1.80 no matter what the size. Our drinks are $2.50, $3.50 and $4 ( Aussie) so all sizes have a bargain refill price. For some kids shows we get in the plastic cups and people can refil them for the $1.80. we still have a few people bringing back plastic cups from the Incredibles.. which is fine by us, they still payfor their drink, but we don't have to clean up and dispose of their cup
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 17 Mar 2006 20:27 #26943

  • leeler
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We charge less the first time around but choose not to refill at a reduced rate.
Small soda $1, Medium $1.50, Large $2
Small Popcorn $1.25, Medium $2.25, Large $3
This helps to get people buying something.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 19 Mar 2006 14:05 #26944

  • rodeojack
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Isn't it a bit un-hiegenic(sp?) to be putting a bucket that someone has eaten out of back into the popcorn machine?? eww..I wouldn't do it..you never know where their hands have been
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Who said that? We don't put our buckets in the machine... not even the new ones. We use scoops, and hold the buckets by the lip on the bottom.

Speaking of things "un-hiegenic(sp?)", one might only imagine what lurks at the customer-operated pop machines and pump-style condiment dispensers, yet fast food restaurants and many indoor theatres have 'em right out there.
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Re: Unlimited popcorn buckets 20 Mar 2006 21:20 #26945

  • Pieman
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yeah, but when reusing popcorn cups, you don't know whats been smeared over the cup.. even that bottom lip!! if the side of the bucket is contaminated and some corn that isn't going in the bucket slides off over the contamination, then it goes back into the machine ewww. Not saying its life threatening..just gross.
Yes, some restaurants do have customer self serve.. and yep.. people get sick after using them all the time..Most places don't have them here in Australia anymore because its unhygienic.. anything people touch is a no no these days..Im sure we've all herad the stories about the bar peanuts being contaminated with urine.

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