Friday, May 29, 2009
A Sad Day
We did our traditional Memorial Day video post last weekend, as the day is commonly celebrated now on the last Monday in May. (If you missed our Memorial Day 2009 video, the video has the first song written for Memorial Day and it is worth watching.) But it was originally celebrated on May 30th and the local VFW will be out today and tomorrow distributing the famous Buddy Poppies as is their tradition.
So our Jan walked the 2 blocks this morning to her twice a year post at the local Ingle's supermarket. Ingle's is the only American-owned supermarket chain left, so there is certainly no conflict of interest with American veterans. But at 12:30 PM, 2 1/2 hours into her 4-hour shift, and as traffic was picking up, the manager, Chris, came outside with the bad news.
Yesterday it was okay to distribute Poppies outside Ingle's. But today Chris received an email from Corporate through his District Manager. No more solicitations. No Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, etc .... and no veterans organizations. The VFW permission was rescinded and Jan was politely "evicted" from her post, with apologies to the VFW from the local manager.
Now Jan doesn't blame Chris. To be blunt, Chris has to do what he is told or he will lose his job. Whether he agrees or disagrees, he has to follow the dictates of Corporate Ingle's. She understands his dilemma. But what was Corporate's rush? Something about "potential liability" and one incident at one Ingle's, location unknown. Who was involved in the incident? Wasn't Jan! Probably wasn't the VFW either. But now no one can solicit contributions outside any Ingle's supermarket throughout six southeastern states.
Bob Ingle, you used to have a heart. We understand that times are changing but some of your stores are located in small rural towns where selling donuts for church projects or raising funds for small organizations in front of local supermarkets has long been a part of community life. Goodness, even the small fire departments have had "Boot Drives" outside of Ingle's over the years. And the VFW ... where would you and your corporation be without American vets, Bob?
There are a lot of vets in this town. Jan always runs into those who donate small change or a dollar or two -- with tears in their eyes for those who served and are no longer with them.
A woman going into the store almost broke down because she recently lost her father, a vet, and is going through a tough time financially. On the way out, trying to smile, she asked Jan, "Could I have a Poppy for my daughter in the car?" She started digging in her purse, " I might be able to find some change." Jan handed her one and said, "Don't worry, everyone gets into a financial bind sometimes." The tears started, "That's just what he would have said." And Jan got a hug. That's the type of interaction Jan says makes standing/sitting around a parking lot for several hours worthwhile.
Cutting Jan off during the busiest time of the shift hurt donations, but the VFW will survive. Tomorrow, instead of walking to her post at Ingle's, Jan will have to drive to Wal-mart. That irks her, since she has been penny-pinching to try to make ends meet.
But Jan isn't angry, she's sad. Sad that an American-owned company has forgotten why they prospered. Loyal customers. Small town community involvement. But now, Ingle's stores are no longer allowed to donate any item to an organization for a door prize. Jan learned that back in early April when the word came down from Corporate, just as the local Humane Society was seeking small door prizes for the benefit car show. Now Ingle's wont allow any organization to do a fundraiser outside their stores.
So, Bob Ingle, if we knew you would read the messages, we would ask readers to send you an email asking why this sudden (sudden is an understatement!) radical change in policy and whether you would consider restoring good public relations with the communities where you have stores. One bad experience killed the program? Must have been one he** (we're not allowed to use that word) of an incident. This is Ingle's Markets website.
Yes, this is a very sad day. We should honor our veterans, not chase them off in the middle of a fundraiser. (To clarify, Jan is not a vet, her brothers are. She's with the VFW Auxiliary so she can help the local VFW. ) So if you see a vet distributing poppies tomorrow -- anywhere other than Ingle's, of course -- we hope you will give a donation to help the organization.