e were torn between two options for our end of year campaign: traditional TV commercials or offering free parking to the town’s residents,” explains Alex Ahee, who represents the third generation of the American watch retailer based in Grosse Pointe Woods, near Detroit, Michigan. “But the thought of giving back to the community, who have supported us for so many years made the decision easy.” The family chose the second option, which cost the same but was far more original and personalised.
Ahee Jewelers, retailer of luxury watch brands such as Patek Philippe and Cartier, was celebrating 75 years in the area and wanted to mark the occasion. Local officials calculated that it would cost approximately $30,000 to finance 900 parking meters in the commercial area around the Ahee shop, which serves a community of nearly 20,000 people, over the two months of November and December.
- For a two-month period, Ahee Jewelers paid for 900 parking meters in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
“The TV ad would have reached a wider audience, but the parking subsidy created a stronger emotional connection,” says Alex Ahee. “And the response was fantastic: not just our neighbours and customers, but even passing strangers came up spontaneously to thank us!”
A tradition of philanthropy
This isn’t the retailer’s first philanthropic activity. In fact, it could be considered a family tradition. Edmund and Bettejean Ahee opened their first shop in 1947 in a bowling alley owned by an uncle in Detroit. In addition to jewellery, they sold a wide range of items including cameras, vacuum cleaners, luggage, sewing machines, typewriters, televisions, transistor radios and tape recorders. Twenty years later, they decided to focus on jewellery and moved to Grosse Pointe Woods to set up Ahee Jewelers.
- Edmund and Bettejean Ahee founded Ahee Jewelers in 1947. Throughout their lives, they distinguished themselves through acts of philanthropy.
Throughout their lives, Edmund and Bettejean Ahee distinguished themselves through their philanthropic activities. In response to the effects of deindustrialisation on the city of Detroit, they regularly organised a soup kitchen to help those in need. Touched by memories of the misery he witnessed growing up during the Great Depression, Edmund started the initiative, which reflects the family’s deeply held Christian values. Today, more than 40 years later, thousands of people attend the Capuchin Souper Summer Celebration each year, an event that has raised over $7 million to date.