Not everyone needs or wants a teddy bear, of course, so in our store (and in the other Madison stores, and the one in Minnesota that's owned by the same franchisee), we suggest to customers that if they don't want the bear for themselves, we can donate it to Toys For Tots on their behalf. This policy of enlightened self-interest has led to us selling a fair few bears this season.
At first, we just put the donated bears in a bin behind the register, ans boxing them up and moving them to the storeroom as needed. Then one day when I was working at the kiosk, a pair of Marines came by and dropped off an official donation bin, which I assembled and placed near the register. As the shift progressed, I noticed people looking into the box as they walked past, so to give those people something to look at, I went down to the inline store, retrieved a box of donated bears, and dumped them into the new bin. And as more bears were sold, we put them directly into the bins.
I bring this up today because I worked at the kiosk this afternoon, and when I glanced into the Toys For Tots bin I noticed that in addition to the bears we sell, there were quite a few other toys in there, many of which were not products we carry. Meanwhile, the donation bin in front of the jeweler across the hall from the kiosk is completely empty, and I think putting our donated bears in there is what makes the differnce. It's like a busker putting some money in his guitar case, or the pianist at the piano bar seeding her tip jar. People are more likely to do something if they think other people are doing it too -- it's routine at the sandwich shop for people to ask what the most popular sandwiches are and then order one of them -- so maybe when people see the toys in our box, they're inspired to add something themselves.
Or maybe it's just because the jeweler's bin is agaist the wall outside their store, and ours is literally in the middle of the corridor. Maybe I'll move some of the toys from our bin over there to see if it makes a difference.