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Taking Care of Your Town

Promoting Smoke Detectors

Over a year ago, we met the city fire marshall at a special event. It was the grand opening of the community resource center for the south side of St. Petersburg. Our store had made a commitment of time and money to work with a group of volunteers to provide our city with a storefront location for the police department. The resource center would be located in the same shopping center as our store.

Since the grand opening, the resource center has grown to be a community center where you can register a bicycle, pay utility bills, or report a concern to the police department. As we mentioned, we were introduced to the fire marshall. He was there to establish a public service display of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. It complimented another display that the police department had created showing locks for bicycles and homes.

With each of the displays, we made sure that our store stocked similar items. As we had participated in the creation of the resource center, we had a close personal relationship with the volunteer staff. When folks came into the resource center, the staff would frequently direct them to our store for products and services.

As the fire marshall was building his display, he mentioned his disappointment with another hardware store in our town when he asked them to participate in a community project that he wanted to start. While attending a convention, he had been told about a relationship that a fire department, a civic group and a hardware store had developed in a midwest city.

It seems that the midwest city had developed a program whereby they were providing free smoke detectors for low income families. The city went so far as to provide the necessary labor to install the smoke detectors. As the news of this program spread, the fire department had many inquiries from the public. As the department participated in mall events, art festivals, and homeowner association meetings, the most frequent question was, "Do we qualify for a free smoke detector?"

The concern of the fire marshall in the midwest was with those people that did not qualify financially. Were these families doing without smoke detectors? The civic group and hardware store were able to provide assistance so that there was a smoke detector available for everyone.

After raising several thousand dollars, the civic group volunteered these funds to the project. The hardware store contacted one of the smoke detector manufacturers, and after explaining the project, was able to get a special price. With this combination of manufacturer pricing, civic group funds, and participation by the hardware store, the cost of a smoke detector was reduced to only a couple of dollars for those that would accept the offer.

Having researched the details of this promotion, the local fire marshall attempted to enlist the assistance of another store in our town. The results were disappointing as the hardware store declined the request to participate. And for some unknown reason, the fire marshall decided to not pursue the idea any further.

The occasion to meet the fire marshall allowed us the opportunity to learn of this unique program. We began to research the idea by calling one of the manufacturers whose smoke detectors we carried. We were thrilled with the response as they offered to give a price break. It would be a quality smoke detector, packaged in a plain box and the 9 volt battery included.

We then went to a local printer and asked him to participate in the program. We would create together, a flyer that the fire marshall and his staff would hand out at the various home shows and community events that they would attend.

Now, there were five participants that were making a joint effort to be of assistance in our community. There would be the folks that would receive the smoke detectors for free, which would be installed by firefighters volunteering their work on their own time.

Then, thanks to the foresight and concern of the fire marshall, there were the many other families in our community that would have smoke detectors installed. Yet, they would pay only a couple of dollars for the detectors. Again, firefighters would volunteer their time to go to the home, inspect and determine the correct number and location for smoke detectors.

And lastly, there were two businesses that took advantage of the opportunity that was placed in front of them. Perhaps, in a small town, this type of community cooperation would have drawn coverage from both radio and newspaper. In the big city, there was no publicity.

Publicity is nice, but this was a matter of civic responsibility in our town. And, the opportunity for several people and businesses to have some "feel good" occasions. There were some positive repercussions that our store experienced.

With this event, as with most other community programs that our store has sponsored, we have a customer that comes into say thanks for participating in an organization that is near and dear to them. They weren't the person that originally solicited our help, but they were a part of the organization. And then, they usually ask us to participate in another fund raising project.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
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PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179