Store Next Door: A. Dodson’s
Giving back is essential for Virginia-based A. Dodson's
For retailers especially, community involvement is crucial. Giving back in any manner is encouraged and certainly welcome, and the variations are plentiful. Alison Dodson Anderson of the three-location Virginia-based A Dodson’s chooses to give back in a way that gets her customers and community involved as well.
Having grown up playing in the aisles of her grandfather’s general store and seeing the impact he made on his own neighbors, friends and community Dodson returned from a New York fashion career to build on her own community. “I returned home in 2002 with a mission to change the face of retail in Hampton Roads,” said Anderson. “That mission runs very deep and is at the core of who we are at A. Dodson’s.”
For 13 years now, Anderson has been changing the face of retail in her community. Likewise, she has been changing the face of what it means to give back. A step further, she’s changing what it means to get her community involved in giving back. About four years ago, A. Dodson’s created a program they call Round Up. Using social media and a customer base whose inherent generosity has shattered any expectation the company could have had, Round Up was a response to the requests the shop received for donations to local charities. “We wanted to do more for our community than donate a small item that may or may not have any impact on the charity’s cause,” said Anderson.
With the introduction of the program, A Dodson’s names one charity each month, selected by social media followers. After being made aware of the chosen charity, customers then have the option to round up their bill. At the end of the month, A Dodson’s matches the total collected, and a check is presented to that respective charity. “At the end of the month, in addition to presenting a check to the charity, we have told every single customer about the charity we’re supporting. I sometimes wonder which is more valuable — the check or the awareness,” said Anderson.
When it comes to social media, Anderson says, “It totally drives the program. We just lay the rails and the train is driven by our followers and the charity and their followers. It's a true community event.”
To date, just about 70,000 customers have rounded up their purchase. With a match from the store, they have collectively donated more than $57,000. What they haven’t kept count of, said Anderson, is the number of customers who have become volunteers after learning about one of the charities, “But we know it’s been a few.”