The Midnight Madness contest at Robert's Jeweler's has become a well-loved tradition for customers; but over the past years, Bob Scott 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.
“I haven’t made a payout yet,” Scott told Patch, a few years back, “although a few times people have come close.”
But this year, with snow predicted for Thursday night, Scott said excitement is mounting as customers are hoping to win.
"This the first year in 21 years that I think we're going to hit on Thursday," Scott said. "My customers will be very happy. That means in February, I'll be paying out a whole lot of money."
Here's how the Midnight Madness contest works. Every customer who made a purchase from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve receives a voucher, and gets to choose whether they think it will snow on Dec. 31, Jan. 1, 2, or 3. If it snows three inches or more between 6 p.m. and midnight, the customer gets the entire cost of their purchase back, except for sales tax.
"One man said he has a receipt for $649 and he told me, 'I'm getting paid,'" Scott laughed. The money will be refunded during the first two weeks of February, during a big celebration at the store.
If the snow actually falls on Thursday night, Scott plans to be sitting outside his shop at midnight with a few bottles of champagne.
"I'll celebrate with everyone that shows up," he said.
Of the snow forecast, he added, "Everyone's excited. I stopped for coffee this morning and everyone was telling me, 'You're going to get hit.' It's the talk of the town."
While Scott says he has no clue yet of how much he'll have to pay back customers, he said he's partially insured. Plus, customers who spend part of their winnings back at the store receive an additional 20 percent discount.
Scott is just as enthusiastic as his customers, eager to give back to the community. "I enjoy this," he said.
The lucky winner, if there is one, will be issued a full refund during the first two weeks in February.
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.