To commemorate the 60W incandescent bulb, which was phased out (along with the 40W) on Jan. 1, 2014, by the final stage of EISA, Atlantic Electrical Supply Corp. in Richmond, VA, hosted a party on Jan, 10, 2014. Not the type of party you may think, though.
“Earlier this fall, I was standing in line at Walmart and two women in front of me were discussing a retirement party they had attended,” says Stephen Levet, Secretary-Treasurer of Atlantic Electrical Supply Corp. “The concept of a retirement party made me chuckle to myself and I thought, ‘What if we had a retirement party for the 60W light bulb?’”
An out-of-the-box idea like this to educate consumers on changing bulb standards isn’t a first for Atlantic Electrical Supply. Back in January 2012, the showroom hosted a “funeral” for the 100W incandescent when EISA eliminated its production. Levet ran an advertisement of an obituary for the bulb in the local paper and borrowed a casket to fill with bulbs in the shape of a person for the event.
For the retirement party, Levet says he circulated the first teaser — a graphic featuring three of his employees with a combined age of 261, as well as one question mark — by e-mail and with invoices in the middle of December. He instructed his staff to respond to inquires about who was retiring by saying "I'm not retiring and that's all I know."
“When the invitation hit, a number of customers and manufacturer's reps called and wanted to know who was retiring and what kind of gifts they should bring,” Levet says. “One electrical contractor had an office pool going. They were betting on who was going to retire.”
Several more e-mail blasts and ads were published, building excitement for the event. At the party, Heather Levet, artist and wife of Stephen’s business partner, displayed an original piece of art made of light bulbs, and four manufacturers — RAB Lighting, Juno, Lithonia and Satco — set up displays to show new LED products and talk to people about energy savings.
Levet estimates that 150-200 people came through the showroom to celebrate. He was also interviewed for the 6 o’clock news on the local ABC affiliate and a short story appeared on the front page of the business section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“We had a lot of fun, educated a lot of people and got our name out in the community,” Levet says. “As an added bonus we collected more than a hundred new email addresses.”