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Suiting Up Sales in Hard Times

April 1, 2009

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Now that the economy has completely gone off the reservation, it’s not hard to find businesses thinking of new and fresh ways to be socially responsible, add consequential value, or summon an extra touch of humanity to their offerings.  The auto guys now offer to pay your loan for a few months if you lose your job and the restaurants have recalculated (and in some cases, re-calibrated) the price of their meals-it’s cheaper here!  Some of these promotions seem less genuine than others, but I’m glad to see them boarding the ship.  I do wish it hadn’t taken a whole nation’s experience to realize hard times are woven into the fabric of American life for many.  I guess that’s what happens when the pain enters your own house.

That said, today we celebrate three excellent examples of services or promotions involving clothing that demonstrate consequential value in the marketplace:  one from a small business, one from big business, one from a nonprofit. 

“If you are unemployed and need an outfit clean for an interview, we will clean it for free”

reads a handwritten sign hanging in the window of First Professional Cleaners on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Owner Carlos Vasquez put the sign up, not recently, but after he lost so many customers after the 9-11 attacks.  He just wanted to find a meaningful way to give back to his community.   Though only moderately used for a long time, these days people are taking him up on his offer more than ever.  Here’s to hoping that his goodwill increases his paying customer base.  Both NPR and WCBS News Radio in New York  have pieces on the shop.

jos a banksIt’s a much shorter term program (three weeks), way more brand conscious, a little more morbid, and clearly experimental, but Jos. A Banks is offering to give you back your money on the suits you buy there if you lose your job before July 1.  Here’s to hoping that the experiment brings them lots of new customers, inspiring them to become even more socially conscious in the long term.  Hurry, you have only until April 9 to buy the suits that qualify, but there’s no limit on the number of suits they will reimburse you for.

dress for successSince 1997 Dress for Success has been helping solve “the catch-22 that confronts disadvantaged women trying to enter the workforce: without a job, how can you afford a suit?  But without a suit, how can you get a job?”  DFS provides many services that empower women, but it starts with providing their clients a suit and some extra dignity.  Head to the website to learn more, but take the time to read the story on why and how Nancy Lubin started this remarkable world-wide charity.


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