I walk into my neighborhood 7-11 to pick up my morning can of iced coffee. It's early, and I'm still half asleep, but when I receive my change from the cashier, I notice that she has given me a few brightly-colored stamps along with my change. It's August, which means that "stamp season" has arrived at Thai 7-11 convenience stores. But what is the point of these stamps? How do they work? What the heck are you supposed to do with them?
The stamps are an annual promotion taking place at 7-11 stores all across Thailand! It takes place during the autumn every year, with each year's stamps showing different characters and themes.
What do you do with them?
If you are a sucker for collecting things, you might just want to pick up one of the stamp booklets from the front counter of the convenience store to help you arrange your stamps. Each year 7-11 produces stamps with a different theme using a different set of popular cartoon characters. This year, the stamps feature the different provinces of Thailand and a product that the province is known for.
A few years ago, they focused on the different countries in the ASEAN region, their national foods, costumes, landmarks, and culture.
It can be fun to try to collect all of the different stamps while "stamp season" lasts! Some people like to try to fill up their booklet completely, and consider that to be "winning" the "game".
Getting special merchandise
If you collect enough stamps, you can redeem them for specially-branded merchandise like tables, chairs, dinnerware, etc. It takes quite a few stamps to do this, but if you look on the front page of your stamp booklet, you can see what you need to save to reach your goal.
Making a donation
If you don't want to save your stamps, you can leave them at 7-11 to be donated to a local charity. Some stores have a stamp page taped to the wall where you can stick your stamps as you leave. This goes towards the donation. It's one baht at a time, but I guess every little bit helps, right?
How do they work?
For every 50 baht you spend, you will receive one 1-baht stamp in return. Certain items, however, are marked with a promotion, allowing you to receive a number of specially colored 3-baht stamps.
This mouthwash, for example, is worth seven 3-baht stamps.
Sure, it's kind of a cheesy and silly promotion, but it can be fun too. Personally, I never redeem my stamps. Instead, I try to fill up at least one side of my stamp book with each year's stamps. I think it's kind of cool to see the different designs. They usually follow some sort of theme that goes towards encouraging people to learn about the culture of Thailand, which I think is pretty neat!