Larry Falter wants you to know that the end times might be near, along with the second coming of the Lord. He also wants you to know that for a very special price you could count down the hours with a beautiful new clock from his 3,000-square-foot jewelry showroom in Superior, Wis.
After all, if fire is about to rain down on the earth and salvation is at hand, now is not the time to deprive yourself of a little bling. Life may indeed be brutally short, but diamonds are forever.
Falter is the soft-spoken owner of LTD Jewelry on Tower Avenue. He is also the lead elder of his Messianic congregation, and he believes that business can be a venue to share his faith with his neighbors and customers, if they are so inclined.
That belief led to a unique advertising strategy that drew some attention, and a few complaints, up in the Duluth-Superior television viewing area.
Falter began airing a commercial (www.startribune.com/a54) for LTD recently that begins with ominous music and an earthly landscape besieged by fire and lightning. Falter faces the camera and delivers his message:
Did you know the Bible predicts the day of the Lord, followed by the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem? As I read the daily news and look around the world, I believe we're really close to that day. Nonetheless, here and now, if you want jewelry, I have access to millions. Diamonds and gemstones, gold, silver, watches and clocks, and I'm selling everything at 50 percent off, giving you unbelievable savings.
Falter says he came up with the idea after an inspiring trip to Israel that convinced him he needed to be more vocal about his faith. He had a business in Superior for 30 years, and he had his faith, "but I never really made the two intersect."
"The Bible tells of prophesies of wars and rumors of wars, of morality collapsing and one-world governments and economies," said Falter. "So many things seem to be converging that a lot of people think something is up. I don't know that the world is ending or anything, but something is going on."
So, in October he directed a local station and a graphic artist to come up with the commercial. He put up a large banner on the front of the store announcing a "Second Coming Sale, 50 Percent off." He carried the theme inside the store with a banner that shows a cloud with light shining through "that tells of the Lord's return."
Falter doesn't sound like the kind of guy who insists on pushing his beliefs on you, but he sure wants you to know that if you want the conversation, he's there for you. He wouldn't mind if you bought a nice diamond ring or pendant while you're at it.
As his website notes, diamonds are resistant to fire and steel, and the word itself evolves from a Latin word meaning "unconquerable."
"The first part of the ad is about the faith, the Second Coming," he said. "The second part of the ad is to say I've got a pretty good sale going on."
"I think it's mostly positive, if people are people of faith," Falter said. "Some said, 'Wow, this guy is coming out of the closet with his faith.' A few friends thought I was kind of short-selling the Lord."
As a family-owned business, Falter has to compete with larger chains and discount prices, so he thought the Second Coming sale might help. He got some attention from the local press, and his commercial was put on YouTube. Business is up from last year, but he's not sure if the ads are the reason or whether the economy is turning around.
One caller wanted to know how long the sale would last.
"I told her until the Lord comes back," said Falter. "She said, 'Wow. You just blew my mind.'"
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