Giving back and showing appreciation is a top priority for an Ottawa business.
The owners of The Goat Milk Soap Store, 202 S. Main St., believe in the good of people and came up with an incentive program to reward students for good grades.
“A lot of times youth get a bad rap,” Julie Riggins, a mother of eight children and owner of the store, said. “We were trying to see how we could encourage youth to get good grades. It is important. We do care and want to encourage them every step of the way.”
If a student maintains a 3.0 grade point average or higher for the semester, the store rewards them with a free bath bomb. The student needs to bring in their grade card that shows they have a 3.0 or higher this past semester, Riggins said.
“We limit it to one per customer,” she said. “We want them to know we recognize their hard work. We are cheering them on. We want them to know somebody is in their corner, somebody is rooting for them. Mom and dad can say it until they are blue in the face, but when it comes from someone else, sometimes it clicks.”
Sometimes a show of encouragement can go a long ways, Riggins said.
“I have seen failing grades, I have seen straight A’s just in our own family,” she said. “Just keep encouraging them to do well. We encourage them to talk to their parents. That is what God does for us, once we ask for forgiveness, it is in the past. We try to encourage the kids and let them know there are people that care about them.”
The response has been good. The students and parents are excited to come in and select their bath bomb, Riggins said.
“It was surprising,” she said. “A lot of times in marketing, especially to teens, is like throwing a dart at the wall and hoping something sticks. We decided we were going to do this several months ago and forgot. The high school yearbook and newspaper staff came down and asked us if we wanted to put an ad in. Why don’t we put that little blurb for the ad? The paper came out three or four weeks later and they started coming in. What we saw on social media was parents saying take your kid in.”
This gives pre-teens and teens a sense of belonging in the community, she said.
“We found a lot times, the teens don’t feel like there is something special for them,” Riggins said. “Ottawa has a lot to offer. They don’t feel like adults are focused on them or want to do something that is fun for them. We are hoping this will bring more teens downtown. Just to hang out. Haley Park is just across the street. We would like to see more people down here.”
She wants the students to feel comfortable coming into the store.
“We have a lot of teens come in and chit-chat,” Riggins said. “They will look around. We always give them the time they need. We encourage them and ask them how school is going, how their sports are going. As a community, we need to do that because when we retire, they are going to be the ones that will take care of us.”
The students are interested in the bath bombs, Riggins said.
“Bath bombs is what they look at,” Riggins said. “Our grandparents and parents use bar soap, but teenagers are not interested in bar soap. [Bath bombs] are what they are excited about.”
The students can still come in and receive their free bath bomb, she said.
“The bath bomb display is a little empty so we are building it back up,” Riggins said Tuesday morning. “We make everything. We were crazy [busy] from Black Friday until this past Saturday. We are trying to keep up. The free [offer] came at the same time. It may have been poor planning on our part, but it worked. People are understanding when we said, ‘Sorry we sold out. This is all we have. We are making it as fast as we can.’”
Riggins expects the store’s bath bomb supply to be restocked to near capacity by the end of the week.