Sunday, September 04, 2005

Boscovs Campus of Courses

Hello to all.

This is Lynda Gaskill, this year’s coordinator of the 2005 PPD and the former Public Relations Manager for the Dover Boscov’s Department Store. I was the PR manger for over 1-½ years and I resigned from Boscov’s on August 18th to relocate to Buffalo, NY with my husband for business purposes. As the PR Manager, it was my job to develop community relations, find ways to give back to the local community for their support & patronage and most importantly increase traffic and new customers (therefore sales) to Boscov’s.

Having worked closely with the Store Manager, Rich Mares, Assistant Store Manger, Michelle Leeuwen, and the Corporate PR Department, I am fully aware of Boscov’s policies and procedures for community/public relations. It was my understanding that Boscov’s is a bipartisan company and does not condone or endorse any organization.

Boscov’s offer the use of their auditorium, entrances (including the mall entrance), their parking lot and other areas within the store to community organizations, non-profit organizations and local groups & clubs for fundraising purposes, membership drives and informational tables. During my employment, we have permitted many organizations, such as the Federation of Women Clubs, the Girl Scouts, the Attorney Generals office, the Dental Association, the Little Miss/Mr. Pageant, School Clubs, church groups, Women League of Voters plus many other organizations, clubs and groups to conduct fundraising activities, membership drives and informational booths.

In September, the First State Corvette Club will be holding their first local Corvette Show. Also, through special promotions, such as the Friends Helping Friends where Boscov’s provide all non-profit organizations, clubs, school groups, auxillaries and religious groups with “25% discount coupons to use Boscov’s on 1 specific day”. The organizations sell these coupons for $5 and keep all the money as a fundraising tool.

The Campus of Courses was designed to provide information, education, knowledge and enlightenment on many different subjects. The only criterion of the class subject is to be of interest to the public and therefore purely subjective. The whole idea of the Campus of Courses is to get the public into Boscov’s. I was also urged by Corporate PR to increase the volume and diversity of the Campus of Courses classes in the Dover area so as to increase traffic/sales. Last winter, we ran several classes on Tarot and similar subjects. and had a great response to each class. The public showed a strong interest in these subjects. So for the fall classes, I worked with Donna Jackson to give the community more classes of similar interest and diversity

The Fall 2005 Campus of Courses class schedule was finalized during the first week of August and was reviewed by the Store Manger, the Assistant Store Manger and Corporate Public Relations before being submitted into a permanent schedule. Therefore, this fall session, we gave the public what they wanted and the response rate is strong, plus no one at the Boscov’s company had any problem with the subject matter and class content. Corporate Boscov’s ran the final schedule in an ad on Sunday, August 28th in the Delaware State News.

I heard that a minister contacted Boscov’s management this past week after the ad ran and PPD requesting that his bible study group be a part of the Campus of Courses. (This is an assumption on my part, but I would make an educated guess that it was the same minister/church group who came to our PPD and was so obtrusive.) I am not sure why Boscov’s is or is not dealing with this minister and his request, but the bottom line is Boscov’s canceled the classes because they did not want to deal with the controversy concerning the topics of these workshops, such as meditation, Numerology, how to prepare oils and how to work with herbs, etc and this church group. By canceling these classes, it is my belief that Boscov’s has become a partisan company and have permitted one group of people to dictate what classes Boscov’s will allow to be offered to the public through their Campus of Courses. In my view this is discrimatory and is contrary to corporate directive to make the courses more diverse. I personally will never shop in a Boscov’s Department Store again. If I hadn’t already resigned as PR Manager two weeks ago, I would have today. I am thoroughly disappointed with Boscov’s and their actions.

Lynda Gaskill