Arby's Reubenville


It seemed like a good idea at the time – play along with a fast food chain’s PR stunt, and the whole town wins coupons! But one New York community is finding out that many residents just aren’t interested.

Welcome to Coeymans, a small town nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley just south of Albany, the state capital. Or, as a sign along Route 32 on the way into town proclaimed last month, “Welcome to Reubenville”.

The sign represented the town’s official entry into Arby’s “Reubenville Challenge” contest, in which the first community in the country to rename itself “Reubenville” for the month of March would receive 5,000 coupons for free Arby’s Reuben sandwiches (read: “Will Your Town Sell Out For Free Arby’s Coupons?”).

Coeymans leapt at the opportunity. Fortuitously, there happened to be a Town Board meeting scheduled on the very day that Arby’s announced the contest. Town Councilman Thomas Boehm heard about it, proposed the temporary name change, the rest of the council approved, a proclamation was drawn up, the highway sign was posted, and Arby’s declared Coeymans the winner. The prize of 5,000 coupons arrived, in the form of $6 gift cards, good on anything in the restaurant.

The big question was, how would the town decide who among its 7,300 or so residents would receive one of the mere 5,000 gift cards? Town officials decided to set aside a few hours on a Saturday in April to hand them out at the Town Hall, first come, first served. And with strict rules: Proof of residency required. One per person. Households must come in groups, if everyone wants their own gift card.

Cue the stampeding hordes of hungry Coeymans residents!


All 35 of them.

That’s according to the local blog “Albany NY a.k.a. Smalbany“, which reports that council members “handed out fewer than 100 of the 5,000 sandwich cards to about 35 of the 7,300+ Coeymans residents who showed up to claim their prize.” None of the town board members responded to requests for confirmation, and the town clerk told Coupons in the News that there are no records “on how many coupon/gift cards have been given out to individual town residents.”

Why the low turnout? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is no Arby’s in Coeymans. The nearest one is more than 20 miles away. Apparently the opportunity to make a one-hour round trip to get $6 worth of fast food was not as tempting to town residents as their leaders may have imagined.

At least it made for good publicity. Council members said winning the contest was “a great public relations vehicle” and a fun way to put Coeymans, er, Reubenville, on the map. But Arby’s didn’t exactly shout news about the winner from the rooftops. It announced Coeymans’ win via Twitter and Facebook posts, and didn’t issue a news release. Instead, it informed Albany-area news outlets and got some local press coverage, for the benefit of those who already knew where Coeymans was on the map.

Ultimately, the town clerk says 1,750 gift cards were given away to local fire departments, a food pantry and a senior center, for the benefit of those who might be most in need of a free meal. But there are still plenty of gift cards available, which “will be given out until they are gone.”

Good thing the gift cards never expire. Already, the residency requirement has been relaxed a bit, as residents in the neighboring Village of Ravena are also eligible to receive gift cards. So if you’re passing through Coeymans (which has since reverted to its original name) and have a hankering for an Arby’s Reuben, why not stop by the town hall and see if there are any gift cards left? They just might give you one – just to get rid of them.

Image source: Arby’s/Facebook

Comments are closed.

Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy