For Bypass Grocery owner James Sinclair, becoming a Mississippi Lottery retailer in January 2020 was a clear sign things were about to change at the store on the outskirts of Columbia.
And the signs were only part of the change.
These days, lottery signs, posters and stickers plaster nearly every surface and wall of Bypass Grocery. John Wooten with Bypass Grocery initially opposed signage for any product crowding the store windows. Once they became lottery retailers, his tune changed, laughed Manager Kyle Sinclair.
“Before the lottery, John was not a fan of having anything posted on the windows, because you couldn’t see out,” said Kyle. “Well, the lottery changed all that.”
Now customers can find lottery-related information in the windows, on the front counter, above the register, on entrance and exit doors and even on the refrigerated beverage doors.
Going above and beyond, John makes sure winning numbers for all the Mississippi Lottery games are posted somewhere in the store.
When the Powerball® and Mega Millions® jackpots recently were announced on the Mississippi Lottery social media pages, John immediately recognized the potential this particular jackpot graphic held for the store.
“The graphic was posted one morning,” he said. “By that afternoon, I had it printed, laminated and posted (in the store).”
He keeps the homemade jackpot signs current, updating the jackpots each morning.
Additionally, he designed a Cash 3 calendar. About the size of a posterboard, the display showcases the previously drawn Cash 3 numbers. Directly in the middle are the winning numbers drawn the night before.
“(We) fill in the daily numbers, because we’ll have players come in asking about the numbers drawn the previous week,” said John. He plans to create a similar display for Mississippi Match 5.
Promotional efforts go hand-in-hand with educating customers.
Owner James Sinclair said if any of his team members notice players hesitant to play certain games, “We give ’em good lessons on ’em.”
They have even personalized their very own how-to-play sheets for Cash 3, kept easily accessible in the store for their players’ convenience.
From another slot on the play center, John has generated another sign he’s providing for their players: color copies of the Mega Millions and Powerball “how to win” page, printed on the back cover of the most recent edition of the MLC’s Retailer Connections newsletter.
The player ticket checker rests conveniently right atop the play center, making this particular area of the store prime lottery-playing real estate.
To keep up with their lottery traffic, Kyle says they have started scheduling an additional staff member during rush hour shifts to ensure all store customers are attended to quickly.
Don’t Bypass Payouts!
Bypass Grocery always tends to have managers on-site. Because of that, they are able to regularly pay out winnings.
“Have good help, and pay people out,” said James. “People come in with a winning ticket, (and if) it goes through our machine a winner, we pay it – no questions asked.”
Initially, he was hesitant, albeit almost opposed, to cash players’ winnings purchased from other stores. He quickly realized though, by always cashing the players’ winning tickets, they would “turn around and spend it right back,” making it an overall win for both the store and the players.
This, in turn, has solidified the loyalty of original customers and new customers who frequent Bypass Grocery.
“We’ve noticed not only original loyal customers, but also new customers who have become loyal to us because of the lottery.”