Happy Sweetest Day!


I grew up in Ohio celebrating "Sweetest Day" every third Saturday in October.  In my opinion, it is sort of like Valentine's Day for Ohioans (even though Hallmark says it is celebrated in all of the Great Lakes region).   It was founded by Herbert Birch Kingston, a philanthropist, in 1922.  It's not a state holiday but rather a national holiday.  For some reason, few folks know about it that live outside of Ohio. I'm not sure why that is, other than Mr. Kingston lived and worked in Cleveland, Ohio; so, maybe having a native connection made a difference of its popularity in Ohio. 

The Founder began this holiday by giving candy to those in our society who were "forgotten".  (Did I mention that he worked at a candy company?).  His intentions were admirable. It was to bring, happiness to those who are deprived which at the time of the holiday’s creation was defined as orphans, shut-ins and the underprivileged.

Well, somewhere along the line the intention got muddled and it became a second Valentine's Day for Ohioans. We had school dances, gift giving and romantic expectations centered all-around Sweetest Day. Not once, did I ever think the “sweetest” was for someone other than a sweetheart.  Sweetest Day was a big deal in my community growing up, but quite frankly it never caught traction in other parts of the country.  

I didn't realize until college that everyone didn't celebrate Sweetest Day. When I would bring up the national holiday, I would be met with "what's that"? 

So, as Sweetest Day approaches this Saturday, I'm wondering why do some holidays make the annual published calendars and others don't?  And, it's not that they just don't make the cut these holidays are seen as obscure.  

Like anything created to fulfill a need there are expectations that it should evolve and be sustainable for the long term.  Unless, we’re talking about fads.  So, founding holidays are much like creating a service or developing a new product.  Here are some questions that we should ask ourselves when creating “new”:

·         Does it fill a national or global need or it is contained to your local area?

·         Can it survive on its own merit/benefits?  Or is it a “me too” brand because it’s not that different from its competition?

·         Does this (fill in the blank) fulfill a short or long-term need? 

·         How do you gain awareness and interest to create a long lasting brand?

These are not yes or no questions to answer; rather, they are questions to challenge us to think.  Where are we going (the objective) and how long will it take us to get there (milestones); and, what is the endgame (goal)? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new holiday, product, event, or service it is essential that it delivers on a missing “need”. 

While, Sweetest Day isn’t celebrated where I live now.  Every year on the third Saturday in October, I smile and remember all of the Sweetest Days of the past that I celebrated.  October 21st will be the 95th celebration of Sweetest Day.  So, Happy Sweetest Day!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsul or @eretailersummit.