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Haiti and Retailers-Ideas from a Consumer

Photo courtesy The Huffington Post

I spent several hours on Saturday purchasing items for Haiti victims.  And while I know that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have given $25mil, and stores like WalMart, Home Depot, and Target have made cash donations ($600k, $1mil, and $500k respectively), I  am surprised at the lack of “big picture” thinking on the part of many national retailers in how they can help Haiti victims with actual goods, as much as through financial donations (and let’s be honest, the dollars given so far are small for these huge corporations).

As I was driving home with items purchased to take to CrossPoint on Sunday, I began to daydream about what I’d do if I ran these companies. This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are surely companies/industries I’m leaving out.  But I’m reaching out to these companies to pass along suggestions.  If you know people in high places at retail, I hope you’ll do the same.

Walmart, Sam’s, Target, Costco, Meijers, KMart-Why not create sections in the store with the big needs (tarps, tents, water, flashlights, formula, basic medical supplies, etc.) and make them easy for people to find and purchase? A step further-why not create bins for those purchased items to be placed into and ship them to Haiti?  You definitely have the resources to make this a possibility.

Sears, JCPenney, Belk, Macy’s, Dillard’s-Why not send several containers full of blankets, sheets, pillows, clothes, and shoes? Everywhere I looked today, there were sales happening, so it’s obvious there’s excess inventory.  I see a really good use for it right now.

Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s-Why not offer to help cover the cost of contractors who come into your stores everyday to get over to Haiti to help with building removal, search & rescue, etc.  I’m sure many many want to help, but haven’t a clue how to get started.  Also, why not commit to sending a carrier full of tools when the removal process begins? Having Eko Depot in Haiti, it’s safe to assume a process for getting materials there is already set.

National grocery store chains-water, formula, baby food, diapers, cleaners, prepacked meals and more are of top need right now.  Again, why not make it easy for consumers to purchase them for shipment to Haiti, as well as sending over shipments of them from you directly? I’ve seen Publix and Kroger’s both do this well during the holidays for those in need. 

Looking at the nonstop pictures, it’s clear that there are many, many people and agencies jumping in to help during this time of crisis.  This level of destruction is going to take marathon mentality, not sprinter thinking.  We need to be in it for the long haul. Which national companies will set the pace for grand-scale efforts to make a difference?

The cost of stepping up and doing the right thing: Expensive

The benefits of long-term loyalty built when retailers do the right thing: Priceless

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3 Responses to “Haiti and Retailers-Ideas from a Consumer”

  1. Tod Shuttleworth January 24, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Jenn – You are a thinker. Great observations.

  2. Molly March 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    You are so right. Opportunity missed and unfortunately the retailers aren’t the only ones missing this.

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by JenDeshler: A new blog post on some things retailers can do to help us help #Haiti http://bit.ly/4vWk8P

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