High heat could help someone cool down

Mike Geddings stands to lose a lot of money if the heat wave continues.

On July 4, Geddings, owner of Rock Hill's Panther Heating & Cooling, will offer full refunds for any air-conditioning system he sells and installs between now and June 24. If, that is, the temperature reaches 100 degrees on July 4 at the York County/Rock Hill airport.

"The farmer's almanac predicted extreme heat the first week of June and it was dead on," Geddings said Friday. "It's saying the same thing for the first week of July, so we've got a good shot."

The record high for the 4th is 99 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, so the odds are in Geddings' favor.

Geddings said he's invested more and more in his local advertising and nontraditional marketing in recent months to combat a slow economy.

He's not alone.

Car dealerships have started offering free and cheap gas to get people on the lot. Area Dodge dealers recently boasted $2.99-a-gallon gas for three years for customers who buy a new vehicle. A Charlotte Kia dealership ran a radio ad last week offering big discounts for buyers wanting to trade-in gas-guzzling SUVs.

Mall shoppers also are being tempted to spend more by eye-catching marketing campaigns.

At the Rock Hill Galleria, general manager Jeff Kirby said the mall recently began offering $20 gift cards to any store in the mall for shoppers who spend $200 in the mall.

For Geddings, the promotion is working. He said since launching it a week ago, his sales are up about 30 percent.

Other businesses have used similar promotions in recent years to boost business. It's common among car dealers in the South that promise free cars if it snows on a particular day. And fast-food joint Taco Bell often promises free tacos if certain events take place at major sporting events, such as a home run in a particular section of the bleachers. In most cases, the companies take out an insurance policy to pay for the losses if the consumer wins the wager.

Geddings said he got the idea for his promotion from a friend in Texas, and while he isn't disclosing how much it will cost him if the mercury does reach 100, surprisingly, he's hoping for a scorcher.

"I hope it does hit 100," he said. "The publicity will be worth more than what I'd lose."

Get your organic on

Good news for healthy eaters: Earth Fare will open June 25 at the Winthrop Commons shopping center on Cherry Road.

The long-awaited replacement for Harris Teeter grocery is almost finished with renovations to the building. The natural and organic foods grocery will host a grand opening that will donate part of its proceeds to the Arts Council of York County.