During October, women's health providers pulled out all the stops to raise breast cancer awareness--and their business profile.
"A lot of the retailers themselves are survivors and they have a passion for what they do," said Carla Fox, general manager at Marietta, Ga.-based Amoena. "They really get behind National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and do a lot of promotions in their store."
Amoena creates a new pin every year that providers can sell or use as giveaways. A percentage of sales goes to various groups.
Vicki Blevins, manager of VDK Turning Point in Lexington, Ky., stocks special items all year, but she ramps up her supply of the pink items associated with breast cancer awareness for October--anything from gel bracelets and pins to scarves and hats.
"We have a pink ribbon corner this month," said Blevins. "I think it's very important for people to see that you are supporting (breast cancer research)."
Staffers also participated in the Race for the Cure to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
"These are weekend and night events," said Blevins. "As a retailer, when your clients see you going beyond 9 to 5, it adds value to your business."
Many stores partner with manufacturers for special fitting events, donating a percent of sales to women's health groups.
Cheryl Pritchard, owner of Portland, Maine-based A Special Place, said that not only brings attention to her store, but also gives women options.
"So many women don't realize that they can get new bras or prostheses every year," said Pritchard. "There's such a lack of information."
Vicki Jones, founder of the Women's Heath Boutique franchise, said lunches, fashion shows and weekly educational events are fun for businesses and customers.
"Our corporate office sends out boxes of stuff and ideas of what we can do," said Jones. "It's a fun time to pay tribute in honor of women who have had breast cancer."
Mundelein, Ill.-based Medline partners with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, pledging $100,000 for mammograms.
"We wanted to take a stand and send the message that breast cancer awareness should be more than just one month," said Lori Bolas, spokeswoman."