Those of us who have grown up north of the border might be aware that the biggest box store chain of hardware/automotive/sporting goods, Canadian Tire, has for many years been in the habit of giving out small numbers of loyalty coupons that look like currency.
They’re given out at the till, at a small percentage of the overall purchase price. The bigger the transaction, the more Canadian Tire “money” given at the check-out (includes Canadian Tire gas stations). Most of the Canadian Tire “bills” come in tiny amounts of five, ten and twenty-five cents and will be taken at par with real money at any Canadian Tire store.
Canadian Tire sells everything from tires to trampolines to camping equipment to appliances, so most Canadians have shopped at one of their stores at some point in their lives. And practically everyone who shops there has either thrown these bills out (though many are reluctant to, because they are technically worth something) or stashed them in a drawer or glove compartment in hopes of someday having enough to buy something substantial.
Sidenote: I once asked my mother if I could buy a pack of gum or something with some Canadian Tire money I found around the house and she scolded me because she thought it would be a waste.
In the fall of 2011, musician Corin Raymond was working on a new album. He had just written a new song called “Don’t Spend it Honey” with another artist by the name of Rob Vaarmeyer. The song playfully referenced Canadian Tire money. As a joke, people started tossing him whatever Canadian Tire bills they had in their wallets whenever he played it:
Initially, he considered blowing what he collected on a celebratory round of drinks at The Done Right Inn in Toronto, which happened to accept Canadian Tire money. Then he discovered a fun fact: The Rogue Music Lab ALSO accepted Canadian Tire money.
As more and more people he knew started to get wind that he was collecting Canadian Tire money for his album, suddenly fistfuls of five cent bills were being handed to him by friends and family.
Eventually Corin posted the ambitious crowdfund to his website, along with his mailing address. After some news articles and TV spots, the bills began pouring in even faster. While mailing legal tender is discouraged, it turns out mailing fake money isn’t. And so did the letters, photos, and stories about where the bills came from, how long they’d been saved, and how awesome the people sending them felt donating it to his album.
By February of 2012, he’d already collected $2,615.50. And if you want an inkling of what that looked like:
By May 2012, the album had morphed into a two-disc collection and booklet (to detail the Canadian Tire Money “caper”) and it had been affectionately titled Paper Nickels. By the time he paid Rogue Music Lab for the album in 2013, he had collected $7,333.75 in Canadian Tire Money, and it was still continuing to roll in.
After the fact, he created a spoken-word piece detailing the story called The Great Canadian Tire Money Caper.
Since 2012, Canadian Tire has been phasing out the paper bills in lieu of a loyalty card, though the store still honors the paper bills.
Featured image via CorinRaymond.com