Gardner-White Donates to Dearborn Family in Need

This holiday season, nothing is more important to Gardner-White than giving back to the community. This weekend, Gardner-White teamed up with the Dearborn Fire Department and WXYZ, Channel 7 to donate furniture and other gifts to a family in need.

The family had been sleeping on the floor, and didn’t have any living room furniture. We stepped up and donated mattress sets and living room furniture, including an Alliston Sofa, to the family.

“It’s a tremendous feeling, these kids, they need it,” Gardner-White President, Rachel Tronstein, said. “It’s just an amazing story when you hear what they’ve ben through and what they have done for each other. They’ve really pulled together and I think its important that the community do the same for them.”

If you are interested in donating money to this family, or other families in the Metro-Detroit area, please visit dearbornff.org for more information.

Sit & Chat with Rachel T.: Workshop Detroit

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It is not every day that you buy products for your home that look awesome, and also help improve the community we live in! So we at Gardner-White are really excited to have teamed up with the two local entrepreneurs behind Workshop, a company that designs and builds this terrific wood furniture from Detroit reclaimed lumber.

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The first and most important thing to note about this product is that it looks great – the designs are modern and functional, the products are substantial (and by substantial, I mean durable, and also really heavy with solid steel legs), and the wood has great character. Pictures of my favorite pieces, like this Grand Blvd. Coffee Table, are scattered throughout this post:

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Beyond looking great, I think that it is companies like Workshop that will ultimately play a role in the redevelopment of Detroit. Workshop does all of their manufacturing within Detroit, and plans to scale within the city itself. There’s a lot of talk about bringing back manufacturing jobs to the city and region, but this team is doing it TODAY.

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Also, each Workshop piece has a story. All the lumber used in these pieces is reclaimed from abandoned homes. In fact, each piece is stamped with the address of the original abandoned home the materials were reclaimed from. You can see the Workshop team rolling down Pearl Street in the Springwells neighborhood as we receive new product into our distribution center.

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Through this deconstruction process, more jobs are created for Detroiters, money that would otherwise be spent on blight removal is locally redistributed and materials are diverted from landfills. You can purchase Workshop Detroit Furniture from all 11 of our Gardner-White locations or on our website by clicking here.

— Rachel T.

Sit & Chat with Rachel T: Donating to Detroit Firefighters

Last month, when we saw a story from Ronnie Dahl at WXYZ about the abhorrent condition of furniture within Detroit fire stations, we had to step in. We are not talking slightly worn furniture with retro flair. We’re talking about chairs bolstered by milk crates, relics from the 1940s with exposed nails, and the item I personally found the most inexcusable – a recliner that stank of cat urine. This was not the way for a community to show its appreciation for the men and women, fire fighters and medics, that work tirelessly to keep Detroit safe, and play an integral role in our city’s renaissance.

As a first step, we at Gardner-White donated more than $10,000 worth of merchandise to outfit Detroit Fire Department Squad 5, which is located at Livernois and Curtis. This squad was just reopened this year and serves more than 20 square miles of Detroit. Even in the short time we were there, these guys were in and out responding to calls continuously. The team from the barbershop across the street even came out applauding, and shared with us how hard Squad 5 works, and how desperately they need a comfortable place to rest.

Inspired by this, Ronnie Dahl from WXYZ and the Suite Dreams team held a campaign to raise funds for other Detroit fire stations. What’s great and unique about our community is that we always step up and band together in times of need, this time raising $11,782, which was doubled by Gardner-White with a matching dollar-for-dollar commitment. We were able to deliver almost $24,000 worth of furniture to Detroit fire stations.

This was easily my favorite day on the job. These guys clearly take pride in their stations – I’ve never seen such neat restrooms. Also, when you look at a fire crew or medic coming back from a job, they’re clearly beat! I’m exhausted and I’m just sitting at a desk or walking a sales floor, this work is 100x more physically draining, making rest all the more important. Also, I’ve never seen such an appreciative bunch, who clearly go above and beyond daily. In my short couple of hours, I saw the members of one squad do their daily check-in on an elderly gentleman next door who doesn’t have any family in the area, and another squad get all the kids coming from school out of the streets and into their homes when they heard of a police chase in the area. There is no doubt in my mind that without these guys, our city doesn’t stand a chance.

And on a lighter note, a dining tip – the final squad we visited was a 4700 Fort Street. I loved this, as you could see the site of the original Gardner White from 1912 just down the block. Hands down, this squad makes the best chili and pico de gallo in Detroit. Find yourself an invitation!

— Rachel T., Gardner-White President

Sit & Chat with Rachel T.: LED Lighting

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If you stepped into our Canton store on Ford road in the summer of 2013, one thing you would have immediately noticed is that it was sweltering. It wasn’t that hot outside, and the air conditioning was working just fine. A major reason for the heat was that we had endless rows of hundreds and hundreds of halogen light bulbs burning. As my dad always jokes, halogen bulbs are really mini-furnaces with light as the by-product.

We need it to be bright – customers need to see the finishes in the walnut dining table they are contemplating or the color of chair for their study – but we also need it to be comfortable. Our solution was to replace our old halogen light bulbs with light emitting diodes (LED) technology from Philips Lighting. For the non-technophiles out there (i.e. all of us), LED’s are made out of a cluster of light emitting diodes. This technology has been around forever, you’ve seen them as the small indicator lights on electronic devices. What’s changed is that the light quality is now way better, and the cost has way down so that they’re now a more practical choice for homes and businesses. More on LED technology is available here.

For us at Gardner-White, the benefits of converting to LED’s were immediate. First, and probably not surprisingly, furniture looks better when you can actually see it. The light quality out of these bulbs was so much better that we even reduced one-third of the lamps throughout our store. Second, the temperature in the stores this summer was a comfortable 72 degrees without the air conditioning constantly working on overdrive, which made the Canton store a much happier place. Third, we don’t need to replace these bulbs all the time, so there isn’t always someone on a ladder in a store being blinded by the light as they constantly run throughout the store replacing halogen bulbs. Lastly, the payback on this investment was less than one-year. Gardner-White is actually saving money by having made this investment.

For me, this project was personally edifying. Back in 2009 I was working in Washington, DC on clean technology, and we tried to install LED’s in the White House. Problem was, the technology wasn’t as mature at the time, and made the Blue Room look like a hospital ward! It was pretty cool to see that now the light coming out of these LED’s was actually better than a traditional halogen bulb. It has only been five years, but the technology has come a very long way.

Philips Lighting was a great partner on this project – check out their write-up here: Gardner-White Case Study

— Rachel T., President of Gardner-White