Back in August, Dallas Market Center launched its second annual national search for retailers who give back in their communities, lovingly called The Next Big Give. After scouring the more than 50 nominations from across the United States, the judging panel settled on two winners: A. Dodson’s, an apparel, accessories and home décor boutique in Suffolk, Virginia; and Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy, a Tyler, Texas-based retailer boasting 150 locations across three states. Here are the complete details of all that these two stores do to give back.
 
Last Thursday, March 22, the winners were honored at DMC’s The Inspired Event, a cocktail party and fashion show. Alison Dodson Anderson, owner of A. Dodson’s, and Rick Ellis, VP of marketing of Brookshire’s, each received their store’s award and had the chance to say a few words. Kathy Hilton, designer of The Kathy Hilton Collection (and yes, Paris’ mom), even participated in the presentation. It was a magical evening!
 
 
While in Dallas, we chatted with the winners and asked them to give advice to other retailers who want to give back, but don’t know how. Here’s what they said:

Q: What’s your advice for small retailers who want to give back through their stores, but don’t know how?
 
A. Dodson’s: “Let your customers guide you. Involve them by simply asking for their ideas on how they think you should give back on your Facebook page, for instance. Partnering with your customers forms strong relationships and reminds the community what shopping local is all about!”
 
Brookshire’s: “Time is as important as anything. Even if you don’t have the resources to make large financial contributions, volunteering for different organizations is very helpful to them and the communities they serve.”

Q: What’s one small way a store can give back that wouldn’t take a lot of resources?
 
A. Dodson’s: “Become a pick up spot for Toys for Tots or run a school supply drive toward the end of the summer. Ask your customers to donate and connect with a local school counselor who can ensure your donations reach the children who would otherwise go without necessary supplies. You may be surprised to learn how much need there is in your own backyard. Another idea is to partner with your local American Red Cross to host a blood drive and offer customers a 25% discount if they donate.”
 
Brookshire’s: “Get your employees involved! Let them assist the causes that are important to them and they can make the decisions based on where they feel the greatest needs are.”
 
Now, retailers—use this advice and get out there and give back! Maybe you’ll be next year’s winner!
 
--MW