Jacki Baker, co-owner of Mother Myrick's Confectionery & Ice Cream Parlor, an ice-cream shop and mail-order candy business with sales of less than $1 million, wanted to do something to encourage children to read.
Baker and her husband, co-owner Ron Mancini, enlisted the help of local high-school art students, who competed to design a game sheet on which grade-school kids could write down the names of books they had read. The winner received a $50 savings bond. Teachers distributed the sheets to 2,000 students in Manchester Center, Vt., and surrounding towns. For each 2 books read, Mother Myrick's would award an ice-cream treat. After reading 11 books, student and family (up to four people) shared a free cake and ice cream.
More than 300 children took part, and the project cost less than $3,000. "Parents told us kids were holed up in their rooms reading," says Baker. Other payoffs were a higher company profile, including a chamber of commerce award, recognition from Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin and First Lady Barbara Bush, and more family visits.