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Twenty-second Grabfest Promotes Campus C-store

University of Wisconsin’s Flamingo Run Run gives three lucky students a free run of retail site in a campus Halloween-themed event.


Three lucky students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison got to grab as much as they could off the shelves of the school’s Flamingo Run c-store and bypass the checkout. The catch? They only have 20 seconds.

The event is called the Flamingo Run Run. It was conceived by Cathy Ness, food service administrator for the school’s Rheta’s Market operation, as a way to provide students with an entertainment event for Halloween.

“We’re always looking for something we can use to keep them on campus instead of going out and possibly getting in trouble,” she says.

The contestants were drawn from previous customers of the store, who wrote their names on the back of their receipts and put them in a container. On Halloween night, three names are drawn (they of course must be present to participate) and each gets a shopping basket, Flamingo Run Run T-shirt and 20 seconds to grab anything off the store shelves (the three go successively, not all at once).

Other students are encouraged to look on and cheer the contestants. There’s a big picture window overlooking the store from which the action can be viewed.

Ness says the most recent Flamingo Run Run (it has been going on for three years) cost the department about $350 in merchandise, but even that minimal amount was partly offset by some vendors that donated their product as promotional write-offs.

So how do the students approach the challenge? Ness says there are different strategies.

“One was very strategic going for the Clif Bars, while some others were too selective for the short time period. One did manage to grab a tray of Hot Pockets from the freezer. Cups of dry noodle soup were also very popular.”

She says the event has been a hit and will definitely be scheduled again.

See videos of the three most recent contestants here, here and here.

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