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The Most Altruistic Shopping Spree Ever Scentsy shares its success to support small businesses

By Carol Tice

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When wickless-candle company Scentsy of Meridian, Idaho, approached its fifth anniversary last summer, owners Orville and Heidi Thompson wanted to celebrate the milestone. But with their hometown, near Boise, hit hard by the recession, blowing $25,000 or more on a party for their 350 local employees seemed to strike the wrong note.

Instead, the founders decided to share their good fortune--sales neared $200 million last year--with the town's small businesses. Upping their budget to $100,000, the couple deputized 1,000 of their employees, family members, vendors and friends with $100 each to spend at local stores.

The resulting campaign didn't just fill local retailers' coffers, the Thompsons report it also made employees feel proud of their company and created positive buzz about Scentsy that lingered like the fragrance from one of its scented candles. One grateful retailer covered their own doors with the words "Thank you Scentsy­--What a Gift!"