We were so excited to honor this year’s The Next Big Give winners at The Inspired Event last Thursday! The Inspired Event also featured a fashion show with the hottest fall trends as well as the Merchandising Makeover drawing. We had a fantastic time and hope our buyers did, too!
Cindy Morris, Dallas Market Center COO and Bill Winsor, president and CEO announcing The Next Big Give winners

Each year, we recognize specialty retailers that make a difference in their communities. This year’s winners, Mary Liz Curtin of Leon & Lulu in Clawson, Michigan and Jean Haller of Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, both support worthy charities through their stores.

Leon & Lulu and its owner Mary Liz Curtin hold true to a community-focused marketing plan in her furniture, gifts and accessories store, which includes more than 60 charity events annually. One of many events includes the store hosting local artists and crafts people for a two-day market to introduce the community to a range of exceptional handcrafted items made in Michigan. The event benefits Cass Community Social Services, a Detroit agency committed to fighting poverty and creating opportunities by providing food, medical, homeless services and more. Other events throughout the year promote literacy, donating blood, diabetes prevention and breast cancer research.
Mary Liz Curtin

Journeys of Life owner Jean Haller and her store have participated in countless efforts benefiting the community for more than 20 years. In 2011, a fire destroyed Journeys’ entire inventory. The community rallied and helped reopen the store through vendors sending product, neighbors pricing merchandise, and volunteers coming to help bring Journeys back from the ashes. Although the store and its contents were declared a total loss, Jean gave the customers the opportunity to purchase the almost destroyed treasures at a reduced rate with all proceeds benefiting charities. In one week, the Fire Fund earnings were 3,500 dollars; each day benefited a different local charity. The Fire Fund sales continue with more than 8,000 dollars raised to date.
Jean Haller

Congratulations again, Mary Liz and Jean. You both are truly an inspiration!

Also, buyers were invited to enter into the free “Merchandising Makeover” drawing worth more than $2,000. Connie Garcia of Hidden Treasures in Rockport, Texas was the lucky winner! Dallas Market Center visual design experts will travel to her store to review their retail space providing fresh, new display ideas. We’ll be sure to post the fun before and after photos from their trip! We had a great time at The Inspired Event and hope you all can join us for our upcoming Markets in June!