Family Dollar Wins over Bloggers in Chicago

My day started with an 8:00 AM conference call (new client {happy dance}), followed by another conference call, followed by the MomImpact webinar with Rick Calvert and Deb Ng {fabulous!}.

Then I went to the grocery store for my mom and got in the wrong line, where I waited, I'm not kidding, 10 minutes for the customer ahead of me to resolve a dispute. Then I rushed home, showered, drove the not sick, but still whiny, child to Hebrew school and headed into the city for a Family Dollar Store blogger event.

"Why am I bothering?" I asked myself on the drive. I'm not a frugal blogger and I've never stepped foot in one of their stores. But by the time I left the event, the question had been answered, and I was beaming.

A few months ago, I was invited out to Consumer Reports HQ where I heard Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum talk about product safety and recalls. I'm paraphrasing, but she essentially said that "dollar stores" were the bane of the CPSC's existence. (Somewhere in my drafts I have a related post called "Cadmium is the new lead.") I was kinda curious to hear what the Family Dollar folks had to say about this.

It turns out that Family Dollar not your typical "mom and pop" dollar store. They carry name brand foods and toys, in addition to their own budget lines.

Family Dollar has (or soon will) American staff based in Asia full time to more easily and closely monitor product quality and safety, which impressed me.

I was also impressed by PR Manager Joshua Braverman's approach to the evening. He said a lot of the right things. For example, he told us he was more concerned about opening up our minds about Family Dollar than he was about whether we wrote about the event on our blogs.

Smart guy.

And he got even smarter.

During the final Q & A, I asked him to tell us about the company's philanthropic efforts. One of the employees had commented earlier that Family Dollar supports the communities that support them and I wanted to know more.

He told us about the hundreds of requests that come in each month (week? day? I should've brought a notebook) and how they dole out gift cards to support this or that group. Then he mentioned how once instead of the cards, Family Dollar donated, I believe he said 80 cases of diapers to an organization that needed diapers more than gift cards.

Before he'd even finished his sentence (while a camera was filming him, mind you), I mentioned that Chicago finally has a diaper bank, the Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank, and sorry to put him on the spot, but would he consider making a donation to them?

Without a blink, he said he'd match the donation.

He's a PR pro. Brilliant.

We joined hands and sang kumbayah and I cried.

Well, that's what it felt like.

So know I know why I went.

I'll leave it to the other bloggers to talk more about the store, the great deals and fabulous finds. And though there aren't any Family Dollar stores in my immediate area, next time I'm near one, I will make a point of stopping in. My mind has been opened.

After our chat, there was an outing to a Family Dollar store for which participating bloggers received a gift card, a shopping challenge and some other goodies. I'm sorry I missed it, but dozens of (cases of) diapers for Bundle of Joy is the most amazing swag* I could want.

Also, I had been invited to test drive the Chevy Volt. The Volt! How could I pass that up?

Disclosure: I got free apps at both events. The eating kind. Thank you in advance to Family Dollar; I'll drop in an update when the diapers have been donated.

* Most amazing swag of 2010 is still the copy of the health care reform narrative signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but the diapers are awesome, too.

Updated 11/19 to add: I made good on my promise. On my way to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a blogger FAM trip, I stopped for a potty break in Michigan City, IN and noticed a Family Dollar store across the street, so my traveling companion, Beth Rosen, and I stopped in. It was not a schlock fest; we each bought a few items.

Now, we wait for the Family Dollar folks to make good on their diaper donation promise.
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