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Ohio brewpub's promotion offering 10 cent beers to vaccinated customers going nationwide

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Posted at 12:46 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 12:46:09-04

CLEVELAND — As talks of a vaccine plateau continue, businesses across the country are offering incentives for both customers and employees to nudge them to get a shot in the arm.

Kroger locations across the country are giving employees $100 in-store credit, as well as a $100 one-time payment for getting the vaccine.

Sam McNulty and his business practices are setting trends in states beyond his home in Ohio.

“I think humans respond better to carrots than sticks. So in our case, we thought, ‘What’s one of the better motivators out there?’ Beer,” McNulty said.

In March, Market Garden Brewery and Brewpub in Cleveland launched the ‘Beer and the Shot’ campaign.

“It was the same day the (Cleveland State University) mass vaccination center opened up, so we thought it was kind of a nice, happy combination,” McNulty said.

Matt Hutter took advantage of the promotion Wednesday.

“It dawned on me while I was here today looking at the menu that I do qualify because I’m vaccinated,” Hutter said. “I’ve had both shots and I like beer.”

Originally, the goal was to offer a ten-cent beer to the first 2,021 vaccinated people who signed up online as a means of motivation. Customers blew past that goal within 24 hours of launching the campaign.

In late April, with Cleveland hosting the NFL Draft, Market Garden exceeded more than 10,000 sign-ups for ten-cent beers in a single weekend.

“Definitely there were a lot of folks showing their out-of-town IDs and out-of-town vaccine certificates,” McNulty said.

Some of those out-of-town IDs included state lawmakers from New Jersey.

“They loved it so much they went back to New Jersey, had a conversation with the Governor of New Jersey, and now it’s a statewide promotion,” McNulty said.

Similar efforts are underway in DC, New Orleans and elsewhere.

Vaccine incentives extend across Northeast Ohio, including Chagrin Cinemas and Cedar Lee Theater offering free popcorn to moviegoers with a vaccination card. The Cleveland Indians are also honoring a $5 ticket discount for vaccinated fans at certain home games.

Hutter said sometimes all people need is the extra nudge.

“If there are goals that have been set by the government to attain a certain amount of percentages of vaccinated citizens, I think it would bring a certain segment of the population out,” Hutter said.

McNulty met with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted virtually Wednesday evening about expanding vaccine incentives statewide but no official decision has been announced.

"Let’s take this beer and the shot campaign that started here at Market Garden and let’s open it up statewide,” McNulty said.

This story was originally published by Emily Hamilton on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering