Disaster Relief Volunteer

The best brick-and-mortar stores are members of their communities. They act as good neighbors, as Gallery Furniture of Houston demonstrates. When Hurricane Harvey disrupted life in Houston, Gallery Furniture opened its doors to residents who became temporarily homeless, and owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale led a volunteer effort to rescue people and their pets from the floodwaters. As reported in USA Today, he is known for constantly giving to his community, contributing to charities and donating furniture to needy families.   

There are many other stories like his that surface during unexpected events such as natural disasters. They are heart-warming and worthy of the news coverage they attract. In addition, local business can play a crucial role by simply being open and available when an unexpected event occurs. When a community faces disruption, residents often need to stock up on essential products – quickly – and ordering online is not always practical, especially for perishable products. Businesses can be responsive by extending their store hours and letting residents know they are open.

As Graham Weihmiller, CEO of the BNI local business network blogged,

Local businesses also provide much-needed products and services that are in dire need when natural disasters strike.  Many forms of natural disasters, especially hurricanes and floods, destroy personal and business inventories and disrupt normal activities.  This is exactly when the local population needs what local businesses can provide.

Disasters are not the only times when local businesses can demonstrate their value as helpful community members, as “Mattress Mack” McIngvale demonstrates with his commitment to giving back to the community all-year round. In addition, being available during any surge in demand – such as when a major event occurs nearby – are times when local businesses can really create a memorable impression by being there.

If you operate a local business, and a major event occurs – whether positive or negative – you can make a difference by being available. In addition, if you offer extended hours and additional inventory to help your community during an unexpected event, remember to update your location data accordingly. Update your location listings with temporary store hours, and rely on your social media listings to quickly inform your community about your extended availability, especially as people often use social media to rapidly communicate during a time of need.

How have you responded during unexpected events? Let us know!