Warming Hearts and Bodies with Community Coat Rack

Apr 3, 2019
About

Location: IGA Martin's Market
Owner: Phil Blackburn
Difficulty: Easy

Strategy

A best practice at our IGA is to show the community that we like to lend a hand and help out. In the winter when temperatures warrant, we put a coat rack outside under the store awning with hangers. Employees and customers fill the rack with gently used coats. Those coats are free to anyone who needs one. We leave this rack outside all winter until the weather begins to warm up. It is a very inexpensive way to give back to the community and lend a helping hand. This practice is so simple and yet to watch the coats come and go off the rack all winter long warms my heart long after winter is over. Customers even drop off coats other times of year to go out when our rack comes out again. Many communities have a coat drive or one-day collection, but this rack is out all winter long (approximately six months).

Just think of the difference we could make if all IGA stores did something like this in their communities. I felt compelled to share this with the group in hopes of touching others' giving hearts.

 

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Numbers

20-25 coats donated per month
$80 for the coat rack

WHY IT WORKS

For Our Shoppers

  • Helps those in need. Sometimes funds are tight and not everyone can afford a new coat. This rack makes it easy to help each other out in times of need.
  • Keeps everyone warm. Our shoppers like to lend a helping hand. Passing along a good coat to keep someone warm creates warm fuzzies.
  • Reduce reuse recycle. When people donate their gently used coats, they reduce waste and give the coats a new life with someone else. It's like a recycling program!

For Our Store

  • Demonstrates we care. It is important to show our customers that we care about the people in the community and are willing to help.
  • Differentiates our store. We stand out from other grocery stores—when shoppers drive up and see the rack near the door, they know we offer more than just the average grocery store.
  • Rewards the team. It is rewarding for employees and owners to see firsthand how much the community cares, and the team enjoys giving back.
Tactics
  1. We purchased a four-foot round coat rack and placed it outside the store under the awning. It stays out 24/7 without monitoring.
  2. We advertise the program on our bag stuffers, Facebook page (about three times over the course of the six months of cold weather), and put a sign outside to make people aware of it.  
Pricing

All it costs is the price of the coat rack—ours was about $80.00.

Pro Tip
  • Check the rack on a daily basis to keep it looking presentable. Most of the time the coats are in good shape, but there are times you will need to remove a coat or two if they are too worn.

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