When most people think of blogs, they think of them as a great way for people to keep in contact with one another and share their life with friends and families. While this is still true, they've evolved into so much more, especially as a way for businesses to get their message across to their customers. They're a great tool for making your company more personal and nowhere is this more apparent than on the blog of Houston business Gallery Furniture.
Ask any Houstonian and almost all of them will be familiar with Gallery Furniture and its owner, Jim McIngvale, affectionately known as Mattress Mack. Thanks to his commercials, everyone knows that Gallery Furniture "really will save you money" and his original store on the North Freeway - in the same location for 28 years - is an icon. Mattress Mack is also known for his charity work, including revitalizing over 130 USO Centers around the world and offering a Christmas Furniture Giveaway every year where furniture is given away to those in need.
On May 21, 2009, the 100,000 square foot warehouse behind the original store caught on fire. It was a gigantic blaze, with over 150 firemen struggling to keep it contained for two and a half hours. Fortunately, no one was injured, not even Post Oak the calf that had a pen in front of the store and the four macaws that live in the showroom, though one of the macaws did need to be revived by the Houston Fire Department. The damage is estimated to be between $15 million and $20 million dollars.
Ever since this tragedy, Gallery Furniture has been posting pictures and stories to their official blog to keep Houstonians informed how the rebuilding effort is going. The posts have also included inspirational stories of the outpouring of goodwill that Houston has directed towards the company. They've shared stories of school children sending in handmade cards. A high school choir group raised money to assist Mattress Mack, but he insisted that the money instead be given to Peace of Mind Foundation, a local charity. A young boy named Logan showed up at the store and refused to leave until the money he'd been saving for an iPod Touch was taken as a donation for the employees. This money was also given to charity and Matress Mack bought Logan an iPod Touch and iTunes gift certificate to thank him for his generosity. The comments have also been filled with messages from readers who want to let the Gallery Furniture family know that they are behind them.
While the fire was certainly a tragedy, Gallery Furniture has made their TypePad blog a place not only for the community to stay informed of what is going on, but to put a human face on their corporation. TypePad is a great tool for making sure your own company is more than just a faceless entity, allowing your customers to see the human side of your business and connect with you on a deeper level.