The winners of the Next Big Give 2013 – the National Search for Retailers Giving Back – were also announced at the end of the June Market. The winners are: Leon & Lulu – a furniture, gifts, and accessories store in Michigan run by Mary Liz Curtin – and Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, Pa., which as a store run by Jean Haller.
Leon & Lulu holds true to a community-focused marketing plan, which includes 60+ charity events annually. For one of the promotions, the store hosts local artists and craftspeople for a two-day market to introduce the community to a range of exceptional handcrafted items made in Michigan. The event benefits Cass Community Social Services, a Detroit agency committed to fighting poverty and creating opportunities by providing food, medical, mental health, vocational, youth and homeless services. Other events throughout the year promote literacy, donating blood, plus fundraising for diabetes and breast cancer organizations. The mission of Journeys of Life store had participated in countless efforts benefiting the community until a devastating fire in 2011 destroyed its entire inventory. The community rallied and helped reopen the store through vendors sending product, neighbors pricing merchandise, and volunteers coming to help bring the store back from the ashes. Although the store and its contents were declared a total loss, Haller approached the insurance company and gave the customers the opportunity to purchase the almost destroyed treasures with a reduced rate with all proceeds benefiting charities. In one week, the Fire Fund earnings were $3,500; each day benefited a different local charity. The Fire Fund sales continue with more than $8,000 raised to date.