How 1 South Carolina retailer enriches its community

BEAUFORT, S.C. — As a member of the community here for more than half a century, furniture retailer FWDG here understands what it means to be part of the local fabric.

As such, the Beaufort, S.C.-based retailer has been giving back to local non-profits for the last three years. This time out, it gave $5,000 each to 10 such organizations in September.

“We’ve been here in business for 51 years, 52 next month. We’ve always done something to give back to the community,” owner Larry Mark told Furniture Today. “We’ve had a coat drive for 33 years. We pick them up, make sure they’re clean and give them to charities who will give them to folks in need. We also do an event for teachers; we give them hundreds of dollars of supplies each year before the start of school.

“All of that makes us feel good, gives us a reason to be different than big box stores. We live in these communities and it’s worthwhile doing. I know a lot of businesses are looking for things to do in their communities.”

Mark said in years past, FWDG had contributed to more non-profits, but the amounts were less, so they opened the vote up online and top vote getters received awards. “We had done this previously, but we spread it a little thin in that we were giving a similar amount of money out, but $1,000 to each of them, and we realized we weren’t making as much of an impact for the charities,” he said. “This year, we decided to use social media to get people who love the nonprofits to vote for them.”

Once the votes were counted and winners announced, the store welcomed each to receive their prizes.

“We had a great event where all of the winners showed up. If they were a pet nonprofit, they brought pets with them,” Mark said. “Some brought children with them. It was a wonderful event and a great time.”

Mark said doing good locally is something any retailer can do. It helps in the community, and he said it often creates goodwill, which is often rewarded with customer loyalty.

“We found a great outpouring each year of people who appreciate the coat drive, the school activities and the Giving Season in September,” Mark said. “Our fiscal year ends in September. We look at our profit numbers and sales numbers, and if we’re able to, we give as much as we can to put in the community. It does come back to reward us. This is one good deed that has gone unpunished.”

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