In late November, Clark’s Diamond Jewelers owner Jane Clark made a wager with an insurance company: she would put up a percentage of the store’s holiday sales, and the insurance company would refund those sales if a certain date in January had at least 3 inches of snow.
Clark wanted the best odds for her customers, so she enlisted climatologist Cliff Harris to help her decide when snow most likely.
Harris was certain the Coeur d’Alene area would have snow between Jan. 10 and 13, so they went for the day right in the middle: Jan. 11.
“I felt like this was the year we were going to nail it,” Clark said. “I paid a lot more to get the best odds for our customers.”
As it turns out, Harris’ long-term forecast was spot on. Jan. 11 was Saturday. And by 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Harris had measured 3.3 inches at his Coeur d’Alene weather station, the official measurement site for the promotion, Clark said.
“He was up all night measuring the snow,” Clark said.
Now that the mark seems to have been hit, it seems the insurance owes Clark’s customers about $500,000 in refunds.
Clark was hesitant to call the outcome of the promotion, since a third party must verify the snow total, but Harris is convinced the snow measured up. The third-party company measures snowfall using Doppler radar, which should show a total around 4 inches, former owner (and Jane’s dad) Dan Clark said.
Coeur d’Alene was projected to see even more snow Saturday evening.
“It’d just be nice to pick up another inch or two as frosting,” Dan Clark said. “But I’ll take the cake, too.”
The National Weather Service forecast 1 to 2 inches Saturday night in Coeur d’Alene and no new snow in Spokane. The brief reprieve comes ahead of a winter storm warning for a Sunday weather pattern that could bring 6 to 8 inches of snow to Coeur d’Alene and 2 to 3 inches to Spokane by Monday morning.
Both cities are projected to see light snow Sunday and Monday, too.
This isn’t the first time Clark’s Diamond Jewelers has been right for a snow promotion.
After the jewelry store doled out refunds for a similar promotion in 2005, when the total was 6 inches at Schweitzer in 12 hours, companies that provide promotional weather insurance wouldn’t re-up with Dan Clark, the owner at the time.
“It was a big deal,” said Dan Clark, who recalled refunding around $250,000 to customers that year.
Dan Clark said he got the idea from a wind-related jewelry promotion in Montana in 2001 or 2002. He said you can insure just about anything, but the trick is to get an affordable policy that is likely to happen.
The promotion that got away was when he was offered a cheap policy for a Seahawks Super Bowl win, Dan Clark said. A few months later, in 2012, he was regretting his decision to pass.
“It’s a gamble,” Dan Clark said.
Jane Clark took over ownership about four years ago and ran the promotion her first two years leading the jeweler. She didn’t do so last year due to the lack of snow, but she wanted to try again this year.
Now Clark says she feels sorry for customers who opted out of the promotion to get a lower price on their merchandise. About 500 people opted in, she said.
Dan Clark said the promotion is just in time for Valentine’s Day jewelry purchases.
“Everybody is so excited,” said Dan Clark. “Where else does it snow diamonds?”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.