• Thomas Lester

The industry comes together in aftermath of Harvey

Class 4 storm hit Texas coast

Julie dodsonA Facebook post from Julie Dodson details the efforts the Houston-based designer is undertaking with friends Matt and Laurie Schaub.
By now most of us have seen the heartbreaking imagery on television and social media.

The city of Houston and the southeastern Texas coast were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey over the weekend, as the Class 4 storm dumped 52 inches of rain in some areas in the state, devastating the community and presumably killing 20 people as of Wednesday.

Members of the home furnishings industry, particularly those close to the affected area, are doing what they can to help those in need and bring a sense of normalcy back to the displaced.

Jim McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack, opened both of his Gallery Furniture stores to those needing shelter on Sunday evening. Additionally, McIngvale used his fleet of Gallery Furniture delivery trucks to pick up people who otherwise had no way to get to one of his stores.

“Sunday when it got bad, we sent out a Facebook post that said the store would be open and sent our trucks to pick up about 200 people in harm’s way,” McIngvale told Home Accents Today. “We got on it quick.”

As of Wednesday, the rains had stopped and many of the refugees in the store had begun heading back to their homes to assess damage and what’s next. McIngvale said now the work is really beginning.

“There’s a lot to do to get these people back up with new homes, new apartments, new domiciles,” he said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll come back bigger and better than ever.”

While the opening of the stores as a shelter brought hope to many in the area, McIngvale said he was touched by what he saw from his temporary guests.

“It’s been an inspiring experience to be around these people who have been through so much but still have an optimistic, can-do attitude,” he said.

Biscuit HomeReposts of this image from Biscuit Home will result in bedding donations for families affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Biscuit Home, a Houston-based home furnishings retailer, was minimally affected by Harvey. While it will deal with any of its own Harvey-related issues later, the team came up with a way to help those in need via social media. For every repost of a graphic on Biscuit's Instagram page, it pledged to donate bedding to a family in need.

"We had an overwhelmingly positive response and are amazed at the generosity of so many. Biscuit is expected to hopefully make over 2,500 donations based on the remarkable responses that we received," said Abbey Forney, marketing and event coordinator for Biscuit Home. "Most importantly, the other organizations listed in the graphic (Team Rubicon and the Red Cross) have received countless donations. We are thrilled to exist as a small business based out of the wonderful city of Houston, Texas. We remain both humbled and flattered that we were able to donate bedding and help spread the word for the dire need of donations. Biscuit stands with Houston and we look forward to building back up the city that has given so much to us."

Houston-based interior designer Julie Dodson is working with former Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who now lives in Atlanta, to fill a truck of supplies in Georgia to bring to residents.

“Laurie (Schaub, Matt’s wife) is a friend and she reached out to me and asked what we need. I told her we need everything,” Dodson said. “We have Distinguished Transport who is donating a truck and we’re going to fill it up with everything we can to help people get their houses back together.”

While many of the bigger items are top of mind when people start donating, Dodson said smaller items can be useful as well.

“One thing I know we’ll need is dishes and silverware and all the things you don’t think about. Everybody thinks of the furniture, the dining room table but they don’t necessarily think of all the other stuff,” she said.

Dodson said the famed Round Top Antiques Fair, which is located about an hour and a half from Houston, is working with vendors to take donations during the upcoming Sept. 25-30 show.

“They have put out a plea to set up donation stations to take in furniture or anything from dishes and silverware. It’s everything,” Dodson said. “They’re going to reach out to their dealers and ask if they can bring any supplies to donate and we’ll start distributing.”

Codarus HarveyJennifer Huffman, vice president of sales for home décor sales management firm Codarus, is gathering cleaning supplies, chainsaws, axes, gloves, shovels, mosquito spray, sunblock and other items around her home in San Antonio and bringing them to Rockport, Texas, which was also affected. Huffman has a PayPal account set up for those interested in helping at https://www.paypal.me/CODARUSjh.

Cole Daugherty, SVP-marketing communications, Dallas Market Center, told Home Accents Today that DMC is adding to the effort by establishing the DMC Cares program with a goal of raising $1 million in donated funds and products. DMC Cares includes an on-site donation drive for personal care and baby items that begins immediately. The market center is also launching a clothing drive, supported by many of DMC’s apparel manufacturers, as well as a home decor and lighting product drive for longer-term needs to rebuild and restore homes in the region. That begins now although distribution will take place later. Follow DMC’s social media pages for details and updates.

Also in Dallas, home furnishings store Coco & Dash is collecting items to send to Houston to help bring a few comforts to those affected by the storm.

The store, owned and operated by the mother and daughter team of Teddie and Courtney Garrigan, announced on Facebook that it is collecting new diapers, blankets, shoes and flip flops of all sizes, hygiene products and baby care products for people in need and leashes, collars and halters, dry food, blankets, large crates, liners and more to give to pets in need.

“We immediately knew we had to try to do something. We are taking donations that will go to three smaller shelters that were already taking refugees as soon as the day after the storm hit,” Teddie Garrigan said. “It’s a horrible situation.”

Greg O'Neal of Cur8 Design shared a friend's Facebook post stressing the importance of support via Greater Houston Community Foundation (ghcf.org), unitedwayhouston.org, houstonfoodbank.org, give.salvationarmyusa.org and texasdiaperbank.org. "[They] are the first responders in the area who need help the most and actively getting needs met to the victims," he said. 

Nationally, the American Lighting Association sent an email to its membership encouraging those interested in assisting to make a donation to Habitat for Humanity’s Disaster Relief fund and/or the American Red Cross. It noted that people can text "Harvey" to 990999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.

In a Facebook post on Aug. 31, soft goods manufacturer Downtown Company showed many of its workers prepping pillows and blankets to send to the affected.

Soft goods manufacturer C&F Enterprises is teaming up with New York based charity Delivering Good to aid Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Southeastern Texas.

The wholesale home décor, bedding, and gift company donated more than 140 quilts to those affected by the catastrophic storm, which left more than 30,000 people displaced from their homes.

“At C&F Enterprises, one of our core values is ‘serve every day.’” said Colleen Hall, senior marketing manager. “As soon as we heard of the devastation in Houston, we knew we wanted to help, and we knew exactly how we could do so.”

The International Housewares Association is partnering once again with Good360 to provide hurricane victims with home products as they rebuild their lives and homes. IHA last partnered with Good360 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

We’re pleased to partner with Good360 and leverage the generosity of the housewares industry to help make a difference for thousands of hurricane victims,” said Phil Brandl, IHA president & CEO. “Good360 is an organization with an impeccable track record of distributing needed products in a well-managed and structured way. Their corporate partners in disaster recovery include Walmart, Crate & Barrel, Home Depot, CVS and UPS.”

Furniture First, a national buying group for independently-owned furniture retailers, in partnership with Serta Mattress Company graciously donated a tractor-trailer load of mattresses to the citizens of Beaumont, Texas and the surrounding Southeast Texas communities. The donation is being managed and facilitated by Howell Furniture, a member of the buying group located in the area devastated by flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Howell Furniture has chosen to distribute the mattresses through their local chapters of United Way.

In addition, Furniture First will be making a monetary donation that will benefit both of these storm ravaged areas. Furniture First has members in these communities and is supporting their efforts to aid in the recovery.

Ashley Furniture announced that it will donate more than $2 million combined to help out in efforts in Texas and in Florida, which was recently hit by Hurricane Irma.

“Like the rest of America, we were shaken by the images coming from Texas and Florida during and after the two storms,” said Todd Wanek, president and CEO, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the victims during this difficult time.”

CPCoastal, known for its mix of modern, impressionist, and vintage coastal themed art (with a special heart for the Caribbean), is donating design royalties from sales of the ‘Caribbean Nation – Stronger Than a Hurricane’ design to the Love for Love City Foundation. Shirts can be purchased through CPCoastal.com. The Love for Love City Foundation was established by country music artist, Kenny Chesney, benefiting victims of hurricane Irma. Visit KennyChesney.com for information on the Foundation and to donate directly.

“We just returned from the Caribbean last week and are deeply saddened by the devastation and mass displacement caused by Irma. I wanted to help in some way, so 100% of royalty proceeds of Caribbean Nation T-Shirt sales will be donated to the Love for Love City Foundation, ” said owner and artist Christine Barker.

While many in the industry are helping, the storm affected a number of home furnishings businesses in the Gulf area, including wall art producer Classy Art.

President Gabriel Cohen said the supplier’s production and shipping operations were closed through Aug. 30 and as a way to reward all of the company's employees, Cohen authorized a bonus of $1,000 for all warehouse and office personnel. Additionally, Cohen started a GoFundMe as a way to help out some employees whose homes were flooded and caused a catastrophic loss.

Cohen said the outreach from peers in the industry has been awe-inspiring.

“We have been overwhelmed by the unbelievable amount of industry colleagues that have shown their graciousness opening their homes to us, trying to send supplies, and even offering extractions,” he said. “I feel blessed in knowing how much everyone cares.”

We will continuously update this story. Share stories below or email tlester@homeaccentstoday.com with additional industry efforts.

Thomas LesterThomas Lester | Business Editor
tlester@homeaccentstoday.com

Thomas Lester is Business Editor for Home Accents Today. A graduate of Emory & Henry College's Mass Communications program, Lester spent a dozen years working for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina covering an array of subjects, ranging from community news, government, education, ACC sports and more before joining Progressive Business Media in 2013. As business editor, Lester covers all aspects of business in the home accents world, from the latest news from manufacturers to successful retail strategies and business analysis.

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