How to Raise 11,000 lbs. of Canned Goods in a Single Week


2009 was a tumultuous year for many businesses but for Regency Cigar in East Greenwich, prosperity continued. However, the thought of thriving while many others were struggling did not feel quite right for owner Michael Correia who came from a less affluent home. So, he decided to act upon his instinct to give back to the community using the same successful formula that he uses in day-to-day business. In 2009, Regency donated 876 lbs. of canned goods to the Rhode Island Food Bank. In 2015, they became the largest private donor of canned goods by raising 11,067 lbs. in a single week! Their formula for success is clearly something for every business to model when thinking about giving back.

In order to launch a successful campaign regardless of whether or not it is for-profit or not-for-profit, you must approach it in the same manner, “If you focus strongly on being successful at something, you will find success,” says Mike. Mike explained the philosophy behind treating the food drive as if it was a profitable campaign. He went into saying that placing a box in the corner and hoping that people will fill the box is a kind act with selfless intentions but often times there needs to be some energy behind the intention to actually get that box filled.

The process requires a two part component, first he rallies his team. Creating a standard beyond measure for his employees has trickled down to finding continued success in both business and in their efforts to raising 11,000 lbs. of food. Next, he and his team rally their most loyal and generous customers. What first began as a simple food drive to help has turned into a head-to-head competition. One customer will bring in 500 lbs. of pasta while another customer is challenged to donate 500 lbs. of sauce — and so it continues. The drive is held during the busiest month of the year for most small businesses; while others are focused on driving sales, Regency’s team is focused on giving back.

While the initial thought to entice others to donate by offering a single cigar for every two canned goods donated has turned into a single cigar for four canned goods donated. Most of their customers generously do not accept a thing.

Last year, storage for the food drive was the most difficult aspect of the week long food drive. Fortunately, this past year Regency has expanded their cigar shop into a newly designed cigar bar equipped with fine whiskeys, wines and malt scotches to accompany their high-end selection of cigars and exclusive events.
Additionally, the plan is to incorporate their own aging humidor. The new expansion will leave more space for future food drives and more customers to take part. But as the company continues to grow in more ways, the food drive remains the most talked about event of the year.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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