“What Kind of Retail Store Does This?”

It’s been a busy October here at our store. Lots of change and lots of things happening. And not just when the store’s open! We’ve held one to two evening events on our fourth floor space each week since we reopened our new reimagined top floor as our Complete Your Home department. As Brand Liaison I get to interact with each organization, usually a non-profit, as they plan and finally execute their event.

As a store, it’s an unusual thing that we do. We open our space with no fee, not to sell our product, but to provide an elegant venue in the city without the pricey cost that usually accompanies that city venue. For most organizations, this price break can make the difference between a successful fundraising event and just breaking even.

I’ve been in the Brand Liaison role for a little over a year now and with any job, if you do it long enough you may take for granted some of the more unusual aspects of the job. The unusual becomes the normal.

And so I was struck at a recent fundraiser for Community of Hope, a wonderful D.C.-based organization that provides hope and stability for low-income and homeless adults and children throughout the D.C. area. They’ve been holding their Fall Gala at our store for the past several years. On this particular evening, they held a live auction to sell “Hope” to the evenings participants. In a half hours’ time the group had raised $41,000! Such an accomplishment!

One of their main sponsors for the evening, Bill Conway, Jr., a local philanthropist, stood up soon after and pledged to match the amount raised during the auction. This group had just raised an amazing $82,000 in the course of an hour! Mr. Conway thanked everyone for their participation and generosity. He then made some very gracious remarks about Room & Board.

He thanked Room & Board for hosting the event and was very complimentary to us. He then went on to say, “What kind of retail store does this? What store opens up their showroom to a bunch of strangers for a few hours AFTER they close?”

I have to say, it really did take me back. Here was a noted philanthropist – a man who had just given $41,000! – calling out Room & Board for OUR generosity. I had become slightly immune to the out-of-the-ordinary way in which Room & Board provides support for our community. It made me humble and proud at the same time. I was reminded of how different Room & Board is from other retailers….and how good that can feel.