The annual contest at Robert's Jeweler's has become a well-loved tradition for customers; but over the past years, Bob Scott, owner of Robert’s Jeweler’s , has been a difficult man to beat.
Scott has been holding the contest to guess the date of snowfall at his jewelry store in the Feather Hill Shopping Center on Route 25 in Southold for 21 years, but no one ever won — until last week.
And on Jan. 2, with snow falling, scores of customers felt their hopes rising.
"We kind of figured we would hit," Scott said this week, adding that he was filled with emotion when the snow started blanketing the town. "It was kind of like relief, after all the anticipation, and it was happiness, because now, after 21 years, people know it works."
According to contest rules, every customer who made a purchase from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve received a voucher, and got to choose whether they thought it would snow on Dec. 31, Jan. 1, 2, or 3. If it snowed three inches or more between 6 p.m. and midnight, the customer would receive the entire cost of their purchase back, except for sales tax.
And that's just what happened on Jan. 2 for 153 lucky customers.
Scott said he does not disclose exactly how much the big win will cost. "But it's a lot," he laughed.
Rather than lament the large sum to be given back to his loyal customers, Scott said he's partially insured, and most importantly, he's pleased. "We're doing well with it, and it's what I've wanted, for 21 years."The contest has caused quite a stir around town, Scott said. Even local Boy Scouts have put his photo on placemats that read only, "It happened."
A celebration will be planned for the first week in February, after the Super Bowl, when winners will receive their checks. Those who opt to use some of their winnings to buy a gift at the store, for Valentine's Day, for example, will receive an additional 20 percent off.
In the days leading up to the big snowfall, Scott said customers were filled with anticipation.
"One man said he has a receipt for $649 and he told me, 'I'm getting paid,'" Scott laughed.
Of the snow forecast, he added, "Everyone was excited. I stopped for coffee and everyone was telling me, 'You're going to get hit.' It was the talk of the town."
Scott is just as enthusiastic as his customers, eager to give back to the community. "I enjoy this," he said.
The contest started when Scott noticed a store promotion years ago offering customers a 10 to 20 percent discount based on a guess.
“I decided to make it real and give a full refund if they were right,” Scott said.
Scott also ran another annual contest this year, where customers guess how many items — this year, it was ribbons — are in a glass jar. The five customers who come close to guessing the actual amount get up to $500 of their purchase back.
Over the years the jar has been filled with Christmas tree balls, watch batteries and money (that required contestants to guess the dollar amount).
This year the official ribbon count was 1228. Three people guessed 1225 and two guessed 1235. "Two days after Christmas Eve, the winners picked up their checks," he said.