Thursday, August 7, 2008

Four-Star Public Service

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 9:19 PM

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Mandi Thompson moved to New Orleans six weeks after Katrina. One of her goals was to show that start-up companies could survive in the city as it rebuilt. It probably helped that she created a company that would create commercial interiors. But she also launched a nonprofit foundation to help others move back — called Furnishing Our Neighbors. Through it, she kicked-off the “Redefine 8/29” campaign. In the last year, Thompson has worked with the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund to organize the campaign — releasing an internet-downloadable CD to raise money. The next phase of the campaign opens shop on Friday with a cut-rate furniture sale. The foundation seeks donations from hotels and resorts that are remodeling. It’s initial grant includes furniture from 707 of the Astor Crowne Plaza, a four-star property. Everything from lamps to desks, to chairs and sofas will be on sale for one of three prices: $8, $29 or $208. 

“When you are rebuilding from A to Z, this stuff is X and Y,” she says. “Furniture and appliances are at the end of the list. But that’s when you’ve run out of money and energy. There’s extraordinary need.” The items will be on sale at her warehouse (731 S. Solomon St.) behind Mid City Lanes Rock ’n’ Bowl from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat., August 9. It will also be open on subsequent Saturdays in August and possibly over the Labor Day weekend. Thompson already has commitments for donations of furniture from other four- and five-star properties around the country, including a Las Vegas resort. Some of those sales will occur in other locations. As changes are occurring in cable television and the upcoming switch to high-definition, many hotels nationwide are undertaking renovations based around switching to flat-screen, hi-def TVs. Thompson expects to get donations from more of such properties. Thompson is planning on setting up a school to teach skills in making and upholstering furniture. Visit her Web site for more information, a map to the warehouse and pictures of furniture for sale.  

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