With the beginning of summer just around the corner, and Memorial Day Weekend marking the opening of Ipswich’s Crane Beach, director of ReCreation and Culture Kerrie Bates needed a new technique to introduce visitors and tourists from around the country to the varied and plentiful charms of the town of Ipswich. Bates explains that the idea for the Ipswich Sand Dollars was inspired by her research on guerilla marketing techniques as well as her own experiences of the beach. “The Ipswich shoreline is relatively flat and uninterrupted by rocks, but sand dollars do wash up quite often,” she notes. “I loved the idea of thinking of them as a currency or coin, but also as representative of the beauty of the beach.”
Bates partnered with the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and The Trustees of the Reservations to fashion the Ipswich Sand Dollar campaign, an idea both unique and emblematic of the town of Ipswich. The chamber purchased 50 silver sand dollars from Mariposa, which The Trustees will place along the beach, one at a time, at varying times throughout the summer—beginning Memorial Day weekend and ending in October. The phone number of the Ipswich Visitors Center is inscribed on the back of each sand dollar, inviting the finders to call the number and claim their prizes.
Each of the 50 winners will receive a custom T-shirt printed with the words “Ipswich Sand Dollar Winner,” donated by Jungle, a local retailer; a coupon for a free canoe trip from Foote Brothers; a half-dozen cider doughnuts from Russell Orchards; and two free entries to the Ipswich Museum. Additionally, each sand dollar corresponds to a unique extra prize—an ever-growing list of donations including gift certificates to local retailers, custom works of art from Ipswich artists, and vouchers for local restaurants. The final prize, a sand dollar party platter donated by Mariposa, will stand in the Visitors Center until the last sand dollar is found, helping to advertise the program to locals and visitors.
“The goal is to invite the wider world to join in on the fun of Ipswich,” says Bates. “The beach already has 500,000 visitors a year, but few of those people actually make it to Ipswich’s downtown to experience our local merchants. The sand dollars will give visitors an opportunity to try new things, discover or rediscover Ipswich, and enjoy creativity and fun in the community.”
Local retailers have been more than happy to take part in the fun. “It’s triggered an outpouring of support from locals,” says Bates. “We’re all excited to have an opportunity to celebrate ourselves and our town heritage.” Most of the Sand Dollar prizes have been donated by local merchants—for Bates, word of mouth has been key in generating local interest. Prize donations are accepted on an ongoing basis, and local businesses can visit the Visitor Center’s website for more information. “The project is both pragmatic and inspirational,” says Bates. “More people will come to walk the beach, and there’s no finer canvas for meditation and reflection than our shoreline. But the sand dollars will also tempt more visitors to venture beyond the beach and experience the dining, shopping, art, and history that Ipswich has to offer.”