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Alsip Home & Nursery sows the seeds of community commitment

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Customers probably tend to think of a business such as Alsip Home & Nursery as somewhat seasonal in nature — plants and garden supplies in the summer, shovels and holiday décor in the winter, etc.

But while the sister stores in St. John and Frankfort, Ill., do indeed move merchandise around according to the seasons (in addition to carrying many year-round products such as home accessories, specialty foods and pet supplies), one thing that never changes throughout the year is the company’s strong commitment to the communities that it calls home through a variety of charitable endeavors.

“Community service and charity are important to us because the community is important to us,” says Maggie Vega, Alsip’s director of marketing and design. “Alsip Home & Nursery has been a family-owned and independent business since 1969, and we believe ourselves to be an important part of the community. Many kids get their first pet from us. Many teens have their first job with us, and many families make us a part of their seasonal and holiday decorating. So as a small business, we want to support the community that supports us.”

That support is manifested in a number of charitable efforts at Alsip Home & Nursery stores, including regular donation collections and change round-ups at their registers to support a variety of local causes every month. Also popular among local sports teams, church groups and garden clubs is the store’s gift card fundraising program, which allows these organizations to sell one of two types of gift cards and keep a percentage of the profits. The Alsip Gift Card can be used on any item in the store and nets the fundraising group 10 percent, while the Alsip Green Goods Card can be used on year-round plant materials and pays groups an impressive 30 percent back.

“This program has been successful for a number of reasons, primarily because the fundraising group doesn't have to handle hefty distributions — their customers are free to come in and pick what they like from our store and there's no chance of damaged goods,” Vega says. “The other benefit is the percentage they receive back. Most gift card fundraisers peak at around 8 percent, but we're proud to be able to offer up to 30 percent back to these groups.”

The holiday season is, of course, an especially important time for charitable causes, and for the seventh year Alsip will be hosting its annual Ladies’ Night Holiday Extravaganza, an evening of live music, drinks, hors d'oeuvres, raffles and, naturally, shopping for holiday décor. Each year the store nominates a women's charity to receive all of the ticket proceeds from this event, with last year’s recipient, Hammond’s Haven House, taking in close to $3,000 (this year’s proceeds will go to St. Jude House in Crown Point).

The extravaganza is just one seasonal example of the kind of giving back that Alsip strives to maintain throughout the year. Vega says even little efforts such as the register round-up help to engage and strengthen the communities that the stores are proud to call home.

“We feel that Alsip is another resource for people to give back what they can, and to inform the community about charities they may not know about,” she says. “Many other great local businesses have adopted strategies like the round-up donations at the register, and it seems to be a success. People already feel good about shopping local, and if they can give a little here and there as they do so, it’s really a win for everyone.”

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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