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From Home Furnishing Business

Cause Marketing – The Retail Connection

Although it’s been around since American Express’s 1983 Statue of Liberty Restoration campaign, cause marketing has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years. More and more retailers have grasped the value in partnering with the organizations, people and happenings their customers care about. It’s a meaningful way to achieve corporate social responsibility goals while increasing customer loyalty, solidifying your brand, and growing your business.

Cause marketing is the marketing of a for-profit business that benefits a nonprofit charity or supports a social cause in some way. Usually it takes form as a marketing partnership between a nonprofit charity and a for-profit business in service of both parties’ goals. Businesses typically benefit from the good virtue associated with cause marketing while nonprofits benefit by increased exposure and the funding driven to their cause.

The motivation is in part a matter of social pressure because consumers have come to expect charitable conduct from companies. But the list of retailers sponsoring causes is also driven by the need to drive store traffic, engage employees and demonstrate community involvement.

At the end of the day, the connection between corporate and the consumer is the retailer. Retailers tend to emphasize cause-marketing programs with a local component, which makes sense because people typically feel good about doing business with companies that do good, allowing the merchant to draw attention to themselves and build good will.

We surveyed a sample of our retail readers and heard about many inspiring programs that have helped transform causes, local communities and the world. Many raise funds for a main cause but contribute to others during the year as well. It’s a testimony to the generosity of the furniture industry and the passion and commitment that has been ignited.


Retailer: Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture

Program Name:  Multiple Sclerosis Fundraising

Benefit to: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Contribution: $100,000 per year

In addition to supporting the MS Society, the Rubin Family has contributed to various charities for many years including combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Boys and Girls Club of America, Bridgewell, and The Home for Little Wanderers. Toy drives, ginger bread house contests and outings to Red Sox games with local children, are among the creative events organized. The retailer also donates furniture they are not able to sell to an organization called Teen Challenge, which helps teens recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.


Retailer: Brooklyn Bedding and Coconis Furniture

Program Name: Ante4autism Poker Event

Benefit to:  Five Autism Charities

Contribution: $110,931 

At the 9th Annual Ante4autism event at the Golden Nugget during the January Las Vegas Market, celebrities, professional poker players, Las Vegas residents and furniture industry attendees enjoyed a fun evening, while raising awareness and money for Autism charities.  Brooklyn Bedding and Coconis Furniture are co-hosts for this worthy event.


Retailer: City Furniture

Program Name: The Kevin Koenig Memorial Covenant House Cup Golf & Fishing Tournament

Benefit to: Homeless/runaway youth in Broward County

Contribution: $100,000 this year ($1.5 Million+ over several years)

City Furniture cares greatly about their community and has earned the Philanthropic Company of the Year award in Broward and Dade, Fla. Counties in the same year. It all started many years ago by making a donation to Covenant House, a faith based runaway shelter for kids and teens. They also began supporting the Museum of Discovery & Science and have donated close to $1,000,000 over the years. Their biggest focus for donations has been Habitat for Humanity 

City Furniture is a major sponsor for; the Making Strides against Breast Cancer Walk, Dolphins (Cycling) Cancer Challenge event and the Broward Heartwalk.  They also support Camillus House and many others.


Retailer: Furniture Fair

Program Name: The Anthony Munoz Foundation  (Celebrity Dinner and Auction, and Youth Football Camp)

Benefit to: Tri-State Youth 

Contribution: Approximately $450,000 each year

Furniture Fair has given to many different charities in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area over the past 54 years. They are great supporters of cause marketing and feel it is a wonderful way to show Furniture Fair cares.


Retailer: Hudson’s Furniture

Program Name: Pink Fundraising Event 

Benefit to: Moffitt Cancer Center

Contribution: $10,000 per year

Hudson’s Furniture’s Pink Fundraising Event benefits the Moffitt Cancer Center and is Hudson’s largest fundraising effort. 

Others include Hudson’s and the Salvation Army Angel Tree, The Boys and Girls Club of America, Back to School Supply Drives, and Basecamp. 


Retailer: Gates Furniture 

Program Name: Extreme Home Makeover

Benefit to:  A Medford Oregon family 

Contribution: $50,000 worth of furniture

The designers from Extreme Home Makeover approached Gates Furniture to ask if they would donate furniture to the local project. The Grants Pass, Oregon retailer was happy to oblige. When the house was ready, Gates closed for a half day and the staff of 30 went to the makeover project property and furnished the entire house.  Owner, Giff Gates said “the team has been inspired by others. They’re fantastic”. Gates also donates to other causes including Hearts with a Mission a cause that serves local homeless and at-risk youth.


Retailer: Michael Alan Furniture & Design

Program Name:  Sleepless for a Cure in Havasu

Benefit to: Cancer Association of Havasu’s low cost Mammogram Program

Contribution: Over $212,000 in eight years

Sleepless for a Cure in Havasu starts with a 24-hour sleepless-a-thon- at the store kicked off by the Mayor.  Women from the community decorate mattresses in honor of those that have fought breast cancer followed by a vote for the most outlandishly decorated mattress.  The event continues with chair massages, auctions, fashion shows and trips to the local coffee shops to stay awake all night.  After 24 hours, local cancer survivors join in to announce total donations.

As a local, family operated furniture store, owner Chris Cooley said, “We want to be more than just a furniture store, we want to give back and be good neighbors to our surrounding communities.” 


Retailer: Olinde’s/Ashley HomeStores

Program Name: Habitat for Humanity Donation of Goods

Benefit to: Habitat for Humanity

Contribution: $101,934

In addition to charitable donations of goods to Habitat for Humanity, Olinde’s supports the Inner Wheel of Baton Rouge Trash & Treasure Sale donating approximately $70,000. Other organizations like The American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Baton Rouge General Foundation Burn Unit, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank as well as many local churches and schools have also benefitted from door prizes, gift certificates, auction items and monetary donations from Olinde’s.


Retailer: Schneiderman’s

Program Name: Annual Golf Tournament 

Benefit to: Ronald McDonald House – Twin Cities

Contribution: $650,000 (Total Direct Giving)

Schneiderman’s Furniture contributes to charitable causes in which their customers and associates are involved. They participated in a fundraiser for Parkinson’s research and contributed $155,000 to the University of MN. They have also partnered with Bridging, a charity organization that helps those in transition. When delivering new furniture, the delivery team often re-purposes customers used furniture (when in acceptable condition) to donate and have passed the 10,000 mark for items contributed.


Retailer:  Turner Furniture

Program Name: 100th Anniversary Celebration 

Benefit to:  Local charities

Contribution: $100,000 for charities plus $100,000 worth of free furniture to customers with a value match to a charity

For their 100th anniversary Turner Furniture gave away $100,000 to local charities and $100,000 in free furniture to their customers. The customers that won the free furniture were allowed to choose a local qualifying charity and Turner Furniture donated a dollar amount equal to the furniture they won to the charity of their choice.


Retailer: Wolf Furniture

Program Name: Annual Vendor Outing

Benefit to: Local women’s, children’s, and veteran’s causes.

Contribution: $60,000 to $100,000 annually

Since 1902, Wolf Furniture has recognized the importance of being a good neighbor to its local community and supports well over 100 local charitable organizations allowing for increased visibility for events with limited budgets. Wolf’s is also involved with The United Way, The American Cancer Society, Boy and Girl Scouts of America and Habitat for Humanity. The Wolf family also has a foundation that supports the arts and education in their region. 

Through charitable donations and philanthropic community activities, the furniture industry has a reputation of being committed to making a positive impact. So find a cause, if you don’t already have one and start planning.

Consumer Trends: NRF Says Consumers Plan to Save Tax Refunds for Later

A record low number of Americans will spend their tax returns this year while the second-highest number on record will put the money into savings, according to the annual tax return survey released in late February, by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Financial security continues to be top-of-mind for all Americans, and consumers are hanging on to their tax refunds tighter than ever,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. 

“Consumers are leveraging their tax returns to build up their savings, but that’s good news in the long run because money saved today is money that can be spent down the road, particularly during the back-to-school and holiday seasons later this year.”

Of the 66 percent who are expecting a refund this season, only 20.9 percent of consumers will spend their refunds on everyday expenses, 8.7 percent will use them for major purchases such as a television, furniture or a car, and 7.6 percent will splurge on special treats like dining out, apparel or spa visits. The numbers are down from 22.4 percent, 9.2 percent and 8.3 percent last year, respectively, and are record lows in the history of the survey. The number planning to spend the money on vacations dropped to 10.7 percent from last year’s 11.4 percent, the lowest since 10.3 percent in 2013. In addition, 8.8 percent plan to use their refund on home improvements.

The survey, which asked 7,609 consumers about their tax return plans, was conducted February 1-8, 2017 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Furniture Retailers Missing Another Chance to Engage Customers? 

Omnichannel — the buzzword of retail in recent years — is being added to the vocabularies of retail finance professionals as well, but an executive at one major finance provider is concerned that many furniture retailers may be missing the party because they don’t have a mobile app for their store.

Mike Ritter, who heads retail card services at TD Bank, said a survey the company conducted at the winter Las Vegas Market showed that 58% of the retail respondents didn’t have a mobile app. Only 32% said they had an app for their customers, and another 11% said an app was in the works, but wasn’t live when the survey was conducted.

He said the results were “a little surprising,” especially since 47% of those who didn’t have an app said they didn’t see a business need for one.

“It’s something the industry is still wrestling with,” Ritter said of the use of mobile apps. “We’re working really hard to try to do this omnichannel experience of promoting product and promoting financing until the purchase takes place, regardless of where it takes place.”

Of the 142 retail executives surveyed, 59% said most of their customers make the purchase in their brick-and-mortar store, while 31% said most make the purchase online and only 4% said most use a mobile app.

And even though physical stores still account for a majority of purchases, Ritter said the vast majority of consumers shop online first, which magnifies the importance of having a good website and mobile app.

“The more information you put in their hands, the easier you can make that final transaction,” he said. “It makes it more likely you’re going to be able to close the sale.”

He said TD Bank, which offers private label credit cards and promotional financing programs, encourages retailers to allow consumers to apply for credit online before they come to the store — or while they’re using a Smartphone in the store. He said the company is “very active” with mobile apps and can help develop promotions and financing programs that engage customers through the app.

“As we work with our partners on app development, it’s very important to make financing a part of it,” Ritter said “The ability to serve up product offers or financing offers when people are engaging at the store can be a really powerful tool from a financing perspective. Most people think they can afford less than they are actually going to qualify for.”

In addition to the retailers who didn’t see a business need for an app, 19% said technology limitations prevented them from having an app, 18% said their customers didn’t want one, and 14% said financial limitations were holding them back.

In addition, the majority of respondents (64%) said most of their customers were 35-54 years old, while 19% said the majority of them were age 55 and up. Only 16% said the most of their customers were age 18 to 34.

Storis Does it Again: Awarded Best Place to Work Honor

Retail software provider Storis has been recognized by New Jersey publication NJBIZ as a “Best Place to Work in NJ” for 2017.

The Best Places to Work in NJ is an awards program produced by NJBIZ since 2005. The program identifies, recognizes and honors the top places of employment in New Jersey that benefit the state’s economy, workforce and businesses.

“This award is greatly influenced by the team of people here at Storis. It’s gratifying to know that our people are happy to come to work every day,” said Barbara DeGenova, senior manager of human resources.

The Best Places to Work in New Jersey program is made up of 100 companies split into two groups: 65 small/medium-sized companies (15-249 employees) and 35 large-sized companies (more than 250 employees). Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the 100 Best Places to Work in New Jersey.

A significant factor in determining who makes the list is feedback compiled anonymously from the company’s employees. The registration and survey process was managed by Best Companies Group, who analyzed the data provided and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

Storis currently has 116 employees in New Jersey.

Companies who made the list will be honored at an April 26 awards ceremony, during which each company’s specific ranking will be revealed for the first time. In 2014, Storis received the #1 Ranking in the Small to Medium Business Category. 

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