The Gifts that Keep on Giving Andrew Z’s Gift-a-Day Giveaway
Writers Barb Evans & Grace Hill
Andrew Zychowski is all about spreading Christmas cheer, one gift at a time. For the past eight years, the patriarch of Andrew Z’s Fine Jewelry has been spreading joy with his “Gift-a-Day Giveaway,” a unique, community-wide scavenger hunt that takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Starting the day after Thanksgiving and continuing every day until Christmas Eve, Zychowski and his elves hide a special gift, ranging in value from $25 to $200 or more, somewhere in the communities of Anthem and Tramonto. Then, location clues are posted on the jeweler’s Instagram and Facebook pages (participants must FOLLOW and LIKE the Facebook page to see the clues), and a mad scramble to find the gifts, which could be a bracelet, necklace, watch or any other piece of fine jewelry, ensues.
“The gifts are always wrapped and recognizable,” says Zychowski.
What started as a unique way to lift spirits during a recession-laden holiday season in 2007 has since turned into a community tradition.
“We started it as a way to give someone an unexpected smile when the economy was down,” he explains, “but it just caught on like wildfire!”
In the early days, some would return the gifts, thinking a customer had left them behind, but word about the giveaway soon spread, thanks in part to social media. Now, hundreds of people wait for the clues and join in on the hunt.
“When we started posting clues on Facebook, it just took it to a whole different level,” he says.
Each year, Zychowski and his family look forward to the event and try to find new ways to enhance the experience and keep it fun.
“We’re also encouraging everyone to spread the cheer by posting their pictures, videos and stories with #AndrewZgift,” he says. “The more people post, the more fun it becomes.”
And it’s the stories that really give the Zychowskis the most joy.
“We’ve heard of people becoming friends when meeting each other on searches,” says Zychowski, “and how whole families will go out searching together. One year, a recently divorced woman found a gift and came in the next day with tears to thank me, saying this was the first Christmas gift she had gotten in five years.”
Because this event has now become a family affair for many, this year, an occasional additional gift geared toward the younger crowds will be hidden next to the traditional jewelry gift. Little ones in pajamas carrying their flashlights might find a surprise of their own!
Zychowski’s oldest son, Scott, recalls a time when he hid a gift and waited to see who would find it.
“Within 15 to 20 minutes of posting the clue, about 50 people showed up with flashlights, searching for the gift,” he says. “I love the fact that it brings the community together. It’s meant to make you feel good.”
The Zychowski family has been in the business of making people feel good with bejeweled gifts since Andrew’s father opened his first jewelry and watch store in New York in 1949. That one store quickly grew to four, expanding into New Jersey, where Andrew took over from his dad and ran the business for 26 years. But the promise of sun and warmer weather called Andrew and his young family to Arizona in 2004. This month, they’ll celebrate the 11th anniversary of their Anthem location.
These days, it’s Andrew’s sons who are learning the ropes of the jewelry business. The third generation of Zychowskis — Scott and his younger brother, Kyle — are happily spreading cheer next to their mom, Beth, and associates Stephanie and Amy, who are considered family. The crew says they love how the Gift-a-Day Giveaway brings them closer to the community, and can’t wait to hear everyone’s gift-hunting stories this year.