Over 150 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry

 Furniture World Logo

Furniture Retailers Help Themselves By Supporting Furniture Banks

Furniture World News on

An Open Letter to the Furniture Industry: We, the undersigned members of the home furnishings industry, are directly seeking your support of the industry’s unified charitable effort. Each and every company in our industry is asked to make a $1,000 sponsorship pledge to the National Furniture Bank Association (NFBA). Supporting the NFBA is not only good corporate citizenship, but it also increases sales of new home furnishings. The NFBA is a non-profit organization representing furniture banks throughout the country. The mission of the NFBA is to increase the service capacity of existing furniture banks, and to open new furniture banks in areas without one. Furniture banks collect gently use home furnishings from the general public, then give it to families in need. Typical clients of furniture banks are victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; women and children escaping domestic violence; families living below the poverty line; and thousands of others covering the whole spectrum of people in need. Furniture banks also keep thousands of tons of used furniture out of incinerators and landfills annually. Furniture banks help turn an empty house into a comfortable home for families that otherwise would have no means of obtaining furniture on their own. Each year, over three dozen furniture banks in America distribute more than 1 million pieces of donated furniture to over 100,000 families and individuals needing assistance. How is it possible that by giving away a million pieces of furniture each year translates into increased sales of new home furnishings? Steve Kincaid of Kincaid Furniture Company raised this subject back in 2002, specifically about a partnership between furniture banks and retailers to create a mechanism for customers to dispose of their old furniture. Among other things, he suggested “a national trade-in month where consumers could funnel furniture through stores to charitable organizations, which would distribute the items to the needy. In turn, the retailer would get a chance to replace the ‘trade-ins’ with new furniture.” Even though there were over 20 operating furniture banks in the country in 2002, the National Furniture Bank Association had just been formed, so few people in the home furnishings industry even knew that Steve’s idea was already a success across the country. Farooq Kathwari of Ethan Allen summed it up succinctly. He said “If we can get old furniture out of consumers' homes, we can sell them more.” How can retailers and manufacturers get involved? It’s easy. Become a corporate sponsor of the NFBA public awareness campaign, called Help1Up. For $1,000 you get a lot in return. The NFBA will be listing every sponsor on the NFBA website. Sponsors are welcome to use the Help1Up logo on your website, and in press and TV advertisements to reinforce with consumers your commitment to the greater good. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate to the communities in which you do business that you care, and that you’re doing something positive on both a local and national level. You can’t get an entire year’s worth of great PR anywhere else for $1,000. Many consumers don’t know what to do with their old furniture, so they simply end up keeping it. Furniture banks provide a catalyst for new home furnishings purchases by picking up your potential customers’ used furniture from their home and providing them with a tax deduction. A customer with a vacant space where their couch used to be is now a very motivated buyer. The 1 million pieces furniture currently donated by the general public each year translates into 1 million new items purchased. We, the industry, need to support the NFBA’s effort to open more furniture banks. That means more places for consumers to donate furniture, and more sales. Retailers can even utilize NFBA sponsorship as a springboard for “trade-in” sales as Steve Kincaid recommended, or other consumer engagement activities. Run an advertisement announcing that for every customer who donates their kitchen table and chairs to a needy family will receive a discount of X% or $Y off a new purchase. A retailer can announce that they will match the donation from any customer making a purchase and giving $25 to the Help1Up campaign. Manufacturers or retailers can donate scratched, dented, or returned furniture to a furniture bank. The NFBA will then alert the local television and newspaper media about it, which makes a great human interest story. Positive press coverage is the best advertising — and it’s free. As an added bonus, CFOs appreciate the tax break of an in-kind donation. But what if there isn’t a furniture bank in your local community? This is an especially important reason to support the NFBA. It took over two decades for just 36 furniture banks to open. In the last ONE year alone, the NFBA is assisting in opening 30 new furniture banks. Without the NFBA, it would be the year 2030 before these new furniture banks began serving their communities. We can only do this with your help. The more furniture banks there are, the more they become common knowledge among American home furnishings consumers. Consumers will soon see donating their used furniture as a deciding factor for making a new purchase or redecorating a room. The NFBA provides furniture banks with national publicity, such as televised public service announcements featuring Kathy Ireland, articles in magazines such as People, and popular television programs such as Oprah. Without the ongoing assistance of the NFBA, the American consumer base will not be made aware of the services furniture banks provide, and new furniture banks cannot open at the current explosive rate. More furniture banks, more publicity, more public acceptance, more retail sales. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation. Consumers benefit from receiving a tax receipt for donating used home furnishings. Less fortunate children and families benefit by receiving the essential home furnishings they desperately need. Furniture banks benefit from the NFBA’s public awareness and in-kind donation campaigns. The NFBA benefits from the support of the home furnishings industry. Retailers and manufacturers benefit from more sales as consumers replace donated furniture with new purchases. In conclusion, furniture banks assist families and children that are in absolutely no way whatsoever, able to purchase home furnishings on their own. Tens of thousands of children in America will sleep on the floor tonight. We, the furniture industry, can change that. Not “could” change that ... CAN change that. The mechanism is already in place. Every company represented in this industry is needed to make an immediate and real difference. Become a sponsor. The NFBA is your unified charitable organization. We all need to take action to improve the lives of people in need as well as our bottom line. We, the undersigned, are the endorsers and current sponsors of the NFBA. Please join us today by becoming a sponsor. Together, we can all make a difference. No child in America should have to sleep on the floor. For a sponsorship form, please call Don Lawrence at (800) 576-0774 or send an e-mail to dlawrence@Help1Up.org. Thank you, Kathy Ireland, Help1Up Ambassador NFBA Board of Directors: Ray Allegrezza, Editor-in-Chief, Furniture/Today Magazine Mary Frye, President, Home Furnishings International Association (HFIA) Steve DeHaan, Executive Vice President, National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) Sharron Bradley, Executive Director, Western Home Furnishings Association (WHFA) Thomas Reardon, Executive Director, BIFMA International Brian Donohoo, President, Futon Association International Kathy Parks, Executive Director, International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA) Tom Drake, President & CEO, North American Retail Dealers Association (NARDA) Heather Petet, Executive Director, Unfinished Furniture Association (UFA) Cherie Rose, President, The Rose Collection; WHFA/NHFA Liaison Mary Ann Levitt, President, Breuners Arizona; 2006 NHFA President Shawn Samson, Managing Partner, World Market Center Las Vegas Wogie Badcock, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Badcock Home Furniture & more Hershel Alpert, President & CEO, Alperts Bill Hartman, President, Furniture First Jeff Cook, President & CEO, Magnussen Home Furnishings John Wells, President, Wells Home Furnishings Edward Massood, President & COO, MGM Transport Corporation Russell Bienenstock, Editor, Furniture World Magazine Lisa Casinger, Editor, Kids Today Magazine Becky Boswell Smith, Editor in Chief, Home Accents Today Sheila Long O’Mara, Editor in Chief, Home Furnishings Business Magazine Warren Shoulberg, Editor in Chief, Home Furnishings News Melissa Dressler, Editor, Western Reporter Magazine Julie Smith, Editor, Furniture Style Magazine Martin Birnbach, Editor, On Design Magazine Margaret Talley-Seijn, Managing Editor, InFurniture Magazine Trish Kemerly, Editor, Home Furnishings Retailer Magazine; Editor, Home Fashion Forecast Magazine Chandra Palermo, Editor, Accessory Merchandising Magazine

Furniture World Magazine-Business solutions for furniture retailers