On episode 4 of #LancasterConnects, we chat with a local hero – Pete Ruggieri – who embodies the spirit of having fun while helping the community at the same time.
We also speak with Lancaster realtor, Claire Chivington, who supports numerous charities like The PA Veterans Foundation, Northstar Initiative, Help The Fight and YWAM – while also helping area residents find their dream homes.
You’ll get to meet our “Pet Of The Week” – Gambit – from Pitties Love Peace: https://pittieslovepeace.com/
Sign Up For Your Chance To Win One Of TWO Gift Cards For A Local Lancaster Restaurant! https://www.lancasterconnects.com
Learn More About This Week’s Guests:
Pete Ruggieri From Lancaster’s Santa Stumble & The Masonic Lite Podcast:
- Santa Stumble: https://www.LancasterSantaStumble.com
- Masonic Lite Podcast: https://www.masoniclite.com/
- Deleware Valley Doberman Pincher Assistance: https://dvdpa.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lancastard
Claire Chivington from Realty One In Lancaster:
- Web: https://www.TeamClaire.net
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClaireChivingtonRealtor
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaireChivie
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Claire.Chivington/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairechivington/
😴 This show is sponsored by Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA! Get your FREE copy of Ben McClure and Jeff Giagnocavo’s book – “Sleep Better”: https://gardnersmattressandmore.com/
Episode Transcript (Click Here To Open/Close)
Jeff Giagnocavo 0:00
How can you help the Lancaster community?
Ben McClure 0:02
That’s what this show is all about.
Ben McClure 0:21
Coming to you live from the Dream Room at Gardner’s Mattress & More. Welcome to Lancaster Connects podcast.
Jeff Giagnocavo 0:27
Welcome everybody. I think I gave you the iflash there in the intro.
Ben McClure 0:32
Well, at least you didn’t take my line this time.
Jeff Giagnocavo 0:34
I didn’t take your line. No, I mean we…
Ben McClure 0:38
Never heard of that line.
Jeff Giagnocavo 0:39
Yeah, we had three episodes where we just nailed the intro and then I go and totally mess it up. And then there’s all this nonsense. So if you got the holy crap eyes, and it was because I was shocked. I didn’t mess it up for fourth time. Anyway, hey, we’re here in the Dream Room Gardner’s Mattress &. More. I’m Jeff Giagnocavo, co-owner of the store.
Ben McClure 0:57
And I’m Ben McClure. Same. Co-owner.
Jeff Giagnocavo 1:00
There we go. There we go. It’s not our experience, we may need some help.
Ben McClure 1:05
It’s a teleprompter.
Jeff Giagnocavo 1:06
Yeah. So anyway, hey, this week. We’re a little I don’t know…maybe as Kramer would say, “Oh, we’re out there.”
Ben McClure 1:14
Yeah, giddy up.
Jeff Giagnocavo 1:15
We’re out there. This week we got employee vacations. Ben, you had a little flashback history yesterday?
Ben McClure 1:20
Flying solo all day long. And it was it was a busy day, you know, customers in the door, phone calls, trucks coming in, you know, normal day here at Gardener’s. But you know, when you’re running thin, it’s not stopped. So, yeah, it’s definitely a flashback to the old times. But you know, that’s, you know, days like yesterday, it makes you feel blessed to have such a great staff that we have here at Gardener’s.
Jeff Giagnocavo 1:44
That is for sure. That is for sure true. It’s always nice. I mean, we get in this morning here early and we recorded this episode a little earlier than normal because of the employee vacations, we got to get the store open shortly. But you know, you see your crew coming in doing the job as you want them to do and it’s really, it’s really great. We’re blessed to have great employees, and they’re a big part of our success.
Ben McClure 2:07
And where is one of those employees?
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:10
Where’s one of them? Well, you mean the current one or a former one?
Ben McClure 2:14
Well, current one but yeah, maybe we could talk about a former one.
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:17
Well, we got a former one on the show. The current one is halfway across the globe.
Ben McClure 2:22
In the Maldives.
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:23
in the Maldives, yeah.
Ben McClure 2:24
Like on his own private island.
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:26
Yeah, it’s pretty wild. Where’s my private island?
Ben McClure 2:29
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:30
Anyway, we’re happy for Drew. He’ll be back in a week or so. And that’s that. But hey, real quick, you know, in the essence of mistakes, Simon if we can get that Hempfield Food Pantry? Oh, no, we’re not doing Hempfield. See? Here we go. A little out there this week.
Ben McClure 2:49
We’ve got the blooper reels though.
Jeff Giagnocavo 2:52
Anyway, listen, last week, we had a great interview with Dave Blile from Hempfield Food Pantry, we made a mistake…we did. You know, my marketing mentor tells a story…This guy was like on the success tour way back in the 80s and the 90s. And he said multiple times he rocked out the best, or one of what he felt was the best sales presentation of his life. But he forgot to sell…that he was there to sell. He literally like didn’t sell what was to be a selling opportunity.
Ben McClure 3:23
That’s like somebody coming in and looking for a mattress and then we go, “Okay, that’s…have a nice day.”
Jeff Giagnocavo 3:28
Yeah, yeah. Well, since we’re in a Seinfeld mode, it’s kind of like, “You want to come up for coffee?” “No, I don’t need coffee, it keeps me up at night.” Anyway, Hempfield Food Pantry, Dave and I forgot to, we forgot to let everybody know when they’re open. So if you need their services, if you want to stop by to volunteer, which is a big part of what our podcast, “Jeff it’s a podcast”, what our podcast is about. You can check out Hempfield Food Pantry. They are open Mondays and Wednesdays. That’s Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 – 1. All right? And that website is hempfieldfoodpantry.org. Alright, so on that tone, it’s a nice little segue, it’s your turn to pick it up. What do we got to announce here?
Ben McClure 4:16
So, obviously the show is called Lancaster Connects. We want to make an impact with the community, connecting with charities, supporting charities and helping them as best we can. We have started what we’re calling the “Lancaster Connects Community”. And we want this to be a collection of our listeners, businesses, church organizations, anybody that feels led to help charities do the good work that they do. We are directing everybody to, that wants to volunteer and help out, to the lancasterconnects.com website. You can enter our contest form. You can win a gift card. But beyond that, there’s a button on there to join the Lancaster Connects Community and the community is really simply a list of people that we are compiling, that we can direct to local charities to help make an impact. So, charities are always looking for help, you know whether that’s a financial donation, which is great, but ultimately time is really what a lot of charities need. And if we can help them find volunteers, I think that’s a great impact that the Lancaster Connects podcast can have. So Lancaster Connects Community you can join the Lancaster Connects Community by, again, going to our website, filling out the contest form and clicking the box that you’d like to be added to the Lancaster Connects Community and we will connect you to a local charity.
Jeff Giagnocavo 5:45
That’s the thing. I mean, I think genuinely, folks in our community are good people, they want to help out. Life is busy, hectic, chaotic. Sometimes you can’t get words out of your mouth like me.
Ben McClure 5:57
Jeff Giagnocavo 5:58
Yeah, but anyway, so that’s what the Lancaster Connects Community is about, is presenting you these opportunities to help out and you know, a place to go and volunteer that time. Real quick, coming up here and then I want to announce something about the Lancaster Connects Community volunteer group. But coming up real quick, our guest this week, we’ve got Pete Ruggieri from Santa Stumble, he helps with Doberman rescues, he’s involved with the Masons, which give back to community, he is our local hero. And we also have Claire Chivington, from Realty ONE Group Unlimited. So those are our guests this week. But real quick, that mention of the Lancaster Connects Community. So, Off The Streets was our very first charity we highlighted in our premiere episode. They are always doing moves and if you would like to jump on our list, or you know, frankly, you can just reach out to them because we’re going to give you their information here in a second. If you go connect with them, Simon if we can bring that up about Off The Streets, so I can read it because I don’t have it in front of me. And our viewers can see it on their screen then too. But Off The Streets always needs volunteers, they always need people to help out and right there on the screen, but I’ll read it out for those listening. If you go to OTS for Off The Streets, firstname.lastname@example.org. To help, you can reach out to them and say, “Hey, I’d just like to volunteer with your moves.” That would be great. And that’s what it is. You’re picking things up putting things down, getting things into the house, placing the furniture, things like that. And it’s a really great charity to get people literally off the streets and help homelessness here in Lancaster. So without too much further ado, I teased it. We mentioned one of our employees is across the world on a vacation. Ben why don’t you tell everybody who we have, and a former employee, with us this week?
Ben McClure 8:02
Yeah, so actually. So we’ll introduce Pete Ruggieri. He was a at least a four or five year Gardener’s employee and retired about five years ago. So we’re kind of bummed that he’s no longer on staff. He was a great employee. But we’re excited that he’s a guest on the Lancaster Connects podcast. Hey, Pete.
Pete Ruggieri 8:23
Thanks for having me. And I just wanted to let you know that when I worked at Gardener’s, they must be doing really well now, because I won a trip to Colombia, and Drew got to go to the Maldives. So congratulations on your success.
Ben McClure 8:36
Pete, you can always make us laugh.
Jeff Giagnocavo 8:40
Yeah. Yeah. But you know, you got the very best hotel suite in Columbia. Come on? Anyway, so we’ll get to Pete here in a second. Claire, welcome to the show. Claire Chivington with Realty ONE Unlimited. Claire, welcome.
Ben McClure 8:57
Claire Chivington 8:58
Jeff Giagnocavo 9:01
So Claire’s with us. She’s got..who do you have in the background there? Because we’re, “off screen” I should say, not in the “background”. That was like almost a scary movie moment. Like, “Claire, who’s in the background?”
Claire Chivington 9:14
I’m like, “What do you mean, who’s back there? It’s my friend. It’s my imaginary friend.”
Jeff Giagnocavo 9:21
Yeah, yeah. So Claire has some dogs that we’ll talk about, maybe if she would like to. But they’re off screen.
Claire Chivington 9:30
Jeff Giagnocavo 9:30
And we might hear them, we might not, that’s all right. This episode seems to be one of those episodes where goofy things are going to happen. Mostly, that’s at my expense, and that’s perfectly okay.[Inaudible] So, anyway, hey, listen, you can get this podcast at lancasterconnects.com. That’s kind of the hub for our podcast. You can search Lancaster Connects in any podcast platform we’re on. I mean, honestly, I know we’re on like the big ones, but we’re on all of them. I mean any podcast platform that you use, just search or type in Lancaster Connects and you’ll find us. Obviously, all of our own social channels, YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, you can check it out there. On the lancasterconnects.com site. See, there’s many ways that you can absorb all of our greatness of poscasting and following a script and, you know, idiotic humor that we might bring to this thing. But listen, the whole goal of the show is to connect the community, help our community thrive and survive, do better and really support the community that supports our business. So Ben, we’ve got some winners this week?
Ben McClure 10:28
Yeah. So these two lucky winners visited the lancasterconnects.com website, entered the contest entry form. We’re giving away two restaurant gift cards every week, $25 gift cards, which will get you started towards a nice meal right here in Lancaster. There are some wonderful restaurants to support and things are opening up a bit and we’re looking forward to the restaurant and entertainment rebound that Lancaster will deal with over the summer. But our two winners this week are Joan Martin of Lancaster and Sara Bolts of Manheim. Joan and Sara, thank you for listening and watching and heading to lancasterconnects.com and entering the contest entry form, maybe you’ll be a winner too?
Jeff Giagnocavo 10:37
That’s right. And just so you know, the gift cards that we’re giving away, we bought a bulk of those back at the end of the year when had the restaurant shutdowns, we did that as a way to help those businesses immediately. Just to highlight a couple, as I went out and around…there’s any number of diners in the county. Evergreen Diner up in Ephrata is one that comes to mind, obviously your night and day, is your Park City Diners. May’s, is another good restaurant, out there which I believe off the 283 Landisville exit, I think, in that new property built there, that you can see from the highway. Tomato Pie Cafe.
Ben McClure 12:11
That is a great breakfast desitination.
Jeff Giagnocavo 12:14
Oh, Claire, we’ll talk about your friends downtown, the name just escaped me. But anyway, listen, when you’re going out, hit your Google Maps or whatever app you use and do our restaurants a favor, locally. The chains, you know there are local folks who work at the chains, they are impacted too, no doubt. But there’s local folks, local ownership of local restaurants, and if you could see it, to go there, that would be tremendous. Alright?
Jeff Giagnocavo 12:48
Local events…Simon, I’m not sure. When I say “Simon”, we have a really great production team in the background, Simon and Billy from Get Super Cereal, so you can search them out that way. But when I say “Simon”, in the background…he’s, there we go, there they are! getsupercereal.com…they’re our production team and do a great job for us to bring you this episode and all of its wonderful top-quality-podcasting, all the tech-stuff-I-don’t-understand, glory. They do a great job! But we’ve got a local events calendar that I found and I am gonna read it out, and if we can get it up on screen, great, if not, no big deal. But if you go to lancasterpa.com/events-calendar/month, I know that’s a mouthful, but if you just get the lancasterpa.com, there’s a lot of really great events that are starting to come on the calendar. Obviously, I would imagine that all of the people hosting those events are looking to do so safely and properly. But if you’re looking to get out of the house, that spring fever is there, definitely, check out that site. There we go, lancasterpa.com for local events.
Jeff Giagnocavo 14:00
So, Claire, let’s bring Claire on screen here. What was the name of your friends who have the restaurant downtown?
Claire Chivington 13:22
Alley Kat. The Alley Kat.
Jeff Giagnocavo 14:11
There it is! I knew it as soon as you said it, of course that’s what it is.
Claire Chivington 14:14
Yep. Good wings. There are known for their pizza.
Jeff Giagnocavo 14:19
Yeah, so Alley Kat is another great one to go help out downtown, alright? So, Claire, welcome to the show, Claire Chivington, Realty ONE Group Unlimited.
Claire Chivington 14:34
Ben McClure 14:35
We know Claire from our referral group we’re all in [Inaudible] Referral Partners Plus. We talked to Claire this morning. Our chapter meets every Friday morning at 8am so we talked earlier and we’re talking now.
Jeff Giagnocavo 14:47
Claire is having a virtual dose of the Gardener’s guys this morning, like a lot of virtual connectedness.
Claire Chivington 14:56
Ben McClure 15:03
Claire, tell us a little bit about what you do.
Jeff Giagnocavo 15:06
See we’re getting better at…
Claire Chivington 15:07
Jeff Giagnocavo 15:08
Notice the little segue.
Claire Chivington 15:09
So I am a local realtor. I work with Realty ONE Group Unlimited, which is located right in the heart of Lancaster. If anybody knows where the Brickyard Restaurant used to be, that is where our office is. It’s just absolutely beautiful. I have a team of agents, and our team is called the Claire Chivington Team. I have Jan Johnson, Jennifer Fields, Shirah Layton-Rikard and myself as the active realtors. What you’re looking at right now is a home that I just listed in Crossgates. And this video was done by The Drone Geek. And so it just kind of shows you a little bit about the property. And this is just a small way of how we market our properties. So yeah, that’s who I am and what I do. I also am a licensed home stager, so I can come into a home, I keep the money in the sellers pocket, I don’t tell them to go rent things. We work with what they have so that we can get their home ready for the market to sell.
Jeff Giagnocavo 16:15
Very cool. I know, way back when my wife and I sold our first house. You know this goes back 2000, I don’t know, eight…nine? Yeah, 2008. The home staging was a big part. So, we’ll talk more about that when we get you back on. But I want to jump into our first first [Inaudible]. By the way, that drone video very cool. I think that’s a very unique way and value that realtors can add, realtors. Sorry, I know you, I know you have to say right, maybe that’s something else we could talk about.
Claire Chivington 16:51
Jeff Giagnocavo 16:52
Ben McClure 16:54
Was the the drone in the home?
Claire Chivington 16:57
Ben McClure 16:57
Oh, that’s pretty cool.
Claire Chivington 17:00
Yeah, he has a large drone in a small drone.
Claire Chivington 17:02
Yeah. The Drone Geek.
Jeff Giagnocavo 17:03
Okay. Yeah. So cool.
Ben McClure 17:05
I had no idea that…
Jeff Giagnocavo 17:07
Yep. So we’ll talk more about all of that great stuff. And I know Claire, you’re connected to a couple and probably more of really great local businesses and local charities that are near and dear to you. So we’ll talk about that here in a minute. But let’s bring on, I’m not sure how to class this next guy. But, you know, we kind of teased a little bit. I’ve got in front of me, in my notes, “interview with charity, local hero guest”. I don’t…I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think of himself as a local hero. But that’s the way I look at Pete Ruggieri.
Pete Ruggieri 17:41
Professional gentleman of leisure.
Jeff Giagnocavo 17:49
So, Pete, why don’t you, you know, because we’ve got a lot of inside baseball going on thus far in our interview, why don’t you catch everybody up listening to you know, who you are, what you do, how you help the community, what you’ve done.
Pete Ruggieri 18:05
Yeah, well, a few years ago, probably about 15 years ago, when I worked in outside sales, I really hated cold calling. And I found that my best technique was to, you know, meet somebody on the inside. So what I did was, my buddy Dan, and I created a group called the Lancaster Five 505 Happy Hour group. And we would meet every Wednesday at a different local bar for networking. And at that time, the other networking organizations were just all these entry level employees. And they would shove a business card in your pocket and expect you to work with them. Well our group was different. We were like, no name tags, come in, have a drink, see if you get to like us. And we would support local restaurants. Eventually, we got to the point where on Wednesdays, we would bring between 80 and 100 patrons out to a local restaurant. And if you’re in the restaurant business, you know Wednesday’s usually your your worst day. So near the end of doing that, I met my wife. And that kind of curtailed my efforts of going out every Wednesday and drinking in bars. So, but I still had this list of contacts. So I emailed all them and I had this idea about doing the Santa Stumble. So the second Saturday of December, let’s all dress up and go out and do a bar crawl. Well, so many people RSVPed. I thought, “Okay, let’s take a $5 donation per person. And we’ll donate it to the mounted police.” And I called whoever the duty sergeant was, just to let them know you’re gonna have 40 or 50 people walking around dressed like Santa Claus. And, you know, we’re not going to cause any problems, kind of, all that stuff. So, we had fun. Well, then the word-of-mouth got out and then the second year we had like 250 people. And then it just started going crazy. And I think our biggest year we raised over $40,000 in one year, another year 35. So we’re well over $100,000 donated to the mounted police and canine units for the city.
Jeff Giagnocavo 20:16
That’s unbelievable. Well, it’s really more important to know, Pete, how did the mounted police and canine fund themselves?
Pete Ruggieri 20:29
So it was really a unique idea when they got started, I believe, chief at the time was Chief Hoover. Other police departments like City of Philadelphia and the city of Wilmington, Wilmington is about the same size. They also had a counted patrol, but they put it into the city budget. And which is great until there’s a budget crisis when somebody will just say, well, we don’t need to spend $50,000 on horses. That’s just silly. So they, the Lancaster folks decided, let’s do ours entirely by donation. So now, you know, the city can’t just go ahead and cross them off like a line item. And so yeah, 100% of their medical bills, their training, their travel, the trailers, all the gear is paid for by donations. And the name of the charities the Lancaster County Police Foundation. It’s a legitimate nonprofit. And they do great work. I mean, I remember a few years back, I believe it was Annie Bailey’s or Tellus was involved. But Duke, one of the horses needed a surgery and you had to go to New Bolton Center, and I believe that was $10,000 for one surgery for this horse. So, it adds up pretty quickly. And you know, we’re glad to help.
Jeff Giagnocavo 21:56
Yeah, cool. Well, there’s a unique connection, not only in that, but we’ve known Pete for a number of years now. But there’s a unique connection, I think, and this is one of the things that I look for as an employer, is if I can help folks grow and even be a small part of their own endeavors, personally, professionally, whatever, I think that’s cool. We have former employee, John, who’s going to be on the podcast a few weeks. Pete knows John well. Pete and John work together, you know, he moved on from our company on very friendly terms, and he was able to grow opportunity for himself. And he started on the truck, came into sales, and now he’s doing a great job where he is, and we’re really happy for that. But the connection here with Pete is the Santa Stumble. I saw that grow from that infancy to the really big year, I think where you said you raised 40 grand. But you had moved on by that point. But we saw big years of big activity, and it was very neat to see you spearhead that and really drive it and so that was very cool to watch. You’re involved with some other things too…Doberman rescue, the Masons.
Pete Ruggieri 23:11
Yeah, I always have a couple of Dobermans. So I started volunteering with a Doberman rescue called the Delaware Valley Doberman Pinscher Assistance. And they’re based out of Phoenixville. But they’re really great. They don’t have, they’re not like the, you know, there’s a fancy Golden Retriever rescue in Lancaster and they’re awesome. But they have a lot of money. We do not. So we don’t have a building. We’rw comprised of volunteers all over the state of Pennsylvania. And we home the dogs and foster them in our houses. So, when we take applications, the higher-ups actually review them to make sure they match a particular dog with a particular owner. And yeah, I’m not sure what the rate is. But it’s, I’d say over 95% of dogs stay permanently placed and very happy I’ve got, if you see me shifting around on camera, I’ve got two sleeping at my feet right now and I keep rubbing their ears so they don’t bark and scratch at the door wanting to go outside.
Jeff Giagnocavo 24:20
Pete Ruggieri 24:21
The other thing I’ve been involved with for so long as the is the Masonic Lodge. And you know, that’s one of those things where it’s just, I think a lot of charitable people find themselves being involved in organizations like that. And on the local level, you know, we do help out some things in the community, but it’s mainly helping our sick members and spouses. But once you’re in, there’s all these appendant organizations that I’m sure our listeners know about, like the Shriners. And they provide free medical care for children. Some lesser known things like the, it’s a group called Grado that wears black fezzes, we raise money for the Humanitarian Foundation, which is dental care for children with special needs. So that seems kind of like a real niche market. But if you had a child, let’s say, with Down Syndrome, they can’t sit there for 45 minutes in a doctor’s chair and have the muscle control to just be patient. So, these kids need usually to be sedated, or they at least need a doctor that specifically trained how to work with them. So that’s where this money goes, even though you know, since a lot of the the government health care a lot of this stuff, normal medicines covered, but you’re not going to get a specialist that’s going to take the time and, you know, sedate your child and fix all the teeth. So that’s kind of what we’re involved in.
Jeff Giagnocavo 25:57
That’s very cool. I mean, just the right there. I think we talked in a previous show about, it was with Dave at Hempfield Food Pantry. It was about understanding. I think what we need directly here in our town and our county, if we can all seek to just take a step back and try to try to understand the struggle, the need that other people have, that we are fortunate to not have. I mean, I never, until this moment in time, I never gave a thought to how somebody with a special needs child is going to get dental care. And if you don’t know, listening to this, I mean, one of the single biggest paths to better health in your life is taking care of your teeth. There is so much connected. We had a good friend, Dr. Kevin Flood, who’s passed away, he did natural dentistry, he passed away a couple years ago. He was a marketing friend of ours out of Michigan, that we were connected to and the stuff I learned from him about dental health, I mean, we don’t need to go too deep into that. But Pete hat’s just awesome. I mean we were so fortunate to have you be a part of the crew and be a part of the team. You came, it was funny, I said, we kind of found each other when our company needed or needed a really great person on a team, and you found our company when you were looking for a bigger, better opportunity. And it’s just very cool that we got to connect.
Ben McClure 27:24
I think we found Pete on Facebook.
Jeff Giagnocavo 27:27
Pete Ruggieri 27:28
Or MySpace, maybe. But yeah, it was unique. I was in a very unhappy job situation. And I was doing some very creative kind of humor stuff on the internet. And, I don’t know, you emailed me one time and said, “You know, you sound pretty creative, you know a little bit about a lot of things.” And I came in for the interview. And I originally was like, “Alright, I have a degree, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, I’m not going to sell mattresses, that’s just silly.” And, when I was a kid, I hated retail. But I learned quickly that Gardener’s was different. And we treated our customers differently. Of course, we want to make the sale. But a huge part of that process was educating them and finding the right purchase for them. So whether you wanted a budget bed for a guest room, or you needed something to help an ache or pain, we really tried to fit the person for what was best for them. And so it was a great fit. I didn’t want to be the shady sales guy and I didn’t have to be there. It was nice.
Jeff Giagnocavo 28:40
Well, thanks for that. Pete. So we’ve got a little something for your Doberman rescue. Every week we donate some money to the folks that come on either through charity or local heroes, whatever they’re connected to. There you go, yeah, Pete’s a great podcast guest because he came like prepped with props. He’s got his adopt shirt on. He’s got his Santa Stumble scarf. So we’ve got, it’s a small amount, but we do it every week. And you know, over time, this consistency will help a lot of folks. So we’ve got $125 donation to the Doberman…I’m sorry, Delaware Valley Doberman Pinscher Assistance Fund. So, we’ll get that out and get that to them. So Pete, thanks so much for joining us hang on the line. We’ll talk a little bit about what makes Lancaster fun here as we wrap up. Real quick, Claire, we’re gonna bring you on in a minute. Let’s see, we’ve got a couple things to go over and pay the bills here. This show brought to you by…speaking of props…our “Sleep Better” book. You can get this book on our website at gardnersmattressandmore.com/sleep-better if you want to go directly to the page to request it. We’ll mail it out to you for free, the actual hard copy, it’s 100 pages, great information that can be coming your way for free today, if you are so inclined. So gardnersmattressandmore.com/sleep-betterw. We’ll help you wake up happy. Ben, who’s our happy customer of the week this week.
Ben McClure 30:10
So, that would be Heidi from Lancaster. This handwritten review came in and reviews are kind of the lifeblood of any small business. And, again, we’ve been blessed with some great customers that have said some great things. But, of course, it’s a result of a lot of hard work and investing in our customers, and the experience that we go through here at Gardener’s. We’ve had a few reviews now come in. This is one of our handwritten reviews. And we’ve got a book right back here full of handwritten reviews. And that’s one of, I think, three books right now. But Heidi was asked in the survey, “How was the overall experience? And would you refer others to Gardner’s Mattress & More?” And she said, “The experience was wonderful. Yes, we will absolutely recommend others to Gardener’s. We were skeptical of the five-star hype online, but from our experience, all these five star reviews are legit.” So, that’s actually a few reviews now that we’ve gotten referencing, you know, there’s a lot of “paid for” reviews out there. Even in our industry, big brands are paying many, many, probably millions of dollars well and on fake reviews.
Jeff Giagnocavo 31:28
I mean review marketing is a real thing. We have 800 plus reviews, handwritten or online that you can see, all authentic. But review marketing is a real thing, it’s a smart thing for any business to do. A little tip for you listening, as a consumer, whether it’s buying a mattress or not, there’s a really great helpful site that just came to mind that’s called fakespot.com, fakespot.com and you can go to there and you can you can paste in really any any kind of link for a product that you’re going to buy and you can plug that in. And I guess they have an algorithm that essentially scores all the reviews collected for that product blank. And you are able to see the grade and whether it’s an A or B, all the way down to an F. And they’re able to basically detect the bots that have been the ones that pump the five star reviews up. So we have no bots, we’ve got no troll farms, we’ve got no clickbait, people across the world…
Ben McClure 32:30
It’s not Ben and Jeff in the background saying…
Jeff Giagnocavo 32:32
It’s not all of that. So anyway, that’s that on that note of review. I was not answering a phone call. I again this is the episode of Jeff making little mistakes. I forgot to pull out our review contest winner. So anyone that gives us a review, whether you’ve bought from us or not, if you like our service and like what we do and you give us a review, you’re in our monthly review contest. So we’ve got February’s winner to announce. And that was Donna Shay. So Donna, congrats for winning our monthly review contest for the month of February. And you can come on into the store, as can our restaurant gift card winners, anytime we’re open and pick those up. Alright? So I think we’ve paid the bills and done that stuff there. Let’s bring Claire back on. And then we’ll do our pet of the week.
Ben McClure 33:28
There she is.
Claire Chivington 33:30
Jeff Giagnocavo 33:32
You’re back. Yeah.
Ben McClure 33:34
So Claire, we were talking with Pete about his Dobermans, you have a couple of dogs at home too, right?
Claire Chivington 33:42
Right. So, Pete and I do have something in common. We adopted Nina from the Doberman Pinscher Rescue of Pennsylvania. So ours is DPRPA. And we also are a foster home for Dobies. So we fostered a Doberman, her name at the time we got her was Riley. She’s been re-homed and her new name is Luna. And her owners are on vacation. So we are fostering Luna who I have in her crate hopefully sleeping peacefully. Just love, love the breed. I just absolutely love the breed. And ours is also volunteer.
Ben McClure 34:28
How many Dobermans Have you had over the years and fostered?
Claire Chivington 34:33
Actually, Nina is our first Dobie, I always wanted one. But I used to obedience train and I worked with Shelties and German Shepherds and different breeds like that. We were a little hesitant about the Dobie because of their reputation, and we ended up finding her online in 2017 and just fell in love with her online and went through the process. This took us three months to be able to adopt her and we got her. So she’s our girl.
Jeff Giagnocavo 35:07
Claire touch on that. We’ll talk about what you do and how you help folks find a home.
Claire Chivington 35:13
Jeff Giagnocavo 35:14
In that context of finding a happy home…why did it take you three months to formally adopt? What was that process like?
Claire Chivington 35:24
Jeff Giagnocavo 35:24
And I think it’s important for folks to understand and it digs into the depth that these rescue groups, whether it’s the one that Pete’s connected to, yours, the ones that we highlight, it’s a lot of work. And again, I’m not afraid because I’m not doing this isn’t about money. The shameless plug…join, the Lancaster Connects Community. If you like dogs, and you want to volunteer, I guarantee you, you will find any rescue happy to take your help. So why don’t you talk about that process of formally adopting a dog.
Claire Chivington 35:58
So I went online, and I saw her profile, and just something about her spoke to me. So we had to fill out an application. And once that application was filled out, it went through the review process. One of the things that counted against us is that we do not have a fenced in backyard because we live against a farm field. So we have a very open backyard. And that was a cautionary thing. However, the fact that I have obedience trained dogs in my past, was a plus. So we went through the interview process with them. And then the foster mom asked us to come and view Nina and see how we worked with her. And because Nina had been adopted out before, and it wasn’t a successful adoption, she had been brought back to the foster mom, they were a little more careful about who was going to adopt her. So Brad, my husband and I, we went and met Nina, and she was kind of nonchalant, and then she started to really gravitate toward me. And once you have petted a Dobie, they’re like Velcro, they don’t go away. And so the foster mom talked with the powers that be within the Doberman rescue. And then they came out to our house because they wanted to see what our house looked like, because we didn’t have the fence. So all of this is what took the process. And then they decided that our house was okay, so we went back and visited Nina again. And then her foster mom brought her to us. And we were out in the field letting me know run, and the foster mom left. And that was about a two and a half to three month process. And the neat thing is, is they stay in touch with us, they want to make sure that their dogs are taken care of.
Jeff Giagnocavo 37:50
So on that note, there’s a similar process in finding the right home, right?
Claire Chivington 37:58
Jeff Giagnocavo 37:58
There’s extra care that should be taken. So why don’t you talk and share with the listeners your views on that and what makes working with a realtor a value and why finding that right fit makes sense.
Claire Chivington 38:15
So as I was speaking today, in our referral group, I’ve moved 13 times. My husband was previous military and then the corporate moves. And out of those 13 times, I can tell you the three agents that made an impact on us, that helped us. After we moved here, this was not a good move, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And the representation we had as a buyer, and the sellers agent did not do their job for us. And we were pretty much left with a big bill of things that we had to take care of that should have been done during the transaction. So I just had had it. My husband and I decided, let me go into real estate. And you know, the next time we’re going to be a little more aware, and we didn’t want people going through what we went through. So the steps that I took, and I take in my practice with our team is that it is not a transaction to us. It is very much about building the relationship with that person, whether you’re a seller or a buyer, and it’s maintaining that relationship through the process. And after we get the check it’s “see you later”…that’s not how we roll. It’s through that process and years later. I’m still in touch with people that I started selling homes to when I was in the business in 2009. So it’s very much relational for our team.
Jeff Giagnocavo 39:45
Very cool. Well, you can see that you know, you go that extra step that drone video to me was very cool to see that and that you shared, going the extra step. Talk about the impact of staging. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
Claire Chivington 40:02
Yes, I think staging is very key. A vacant house can sell. And one of the cool things with COVID was virtual staging became a really big thing. But staging a home to sell, you have to remember that as a seller, you’re trying to sell your property. And in our crazy market right now, things are out the window. But in a normal market, you’re trying to sell your home. So you’re not marketing your home, like you live in it, you’re marketing your home to somebody who wants to come in and make it their home. So part of our responsibility of staging is in making that home an invitation. It’s a statement for a buyer to come into it and say, “Yeah, I can see this, oh, this makes me feel good. This makes me feel like it’s my home.” So I’m very much about trying to keep the money in the seller’s pocket, we don’t go out and rent furniture, we take what they have in their home. And as you, there’s a video playing right now, this seller was very savvy, I didn’t have to do very much with her at all. But she’s a previous client as well. So I worked with her and selling a home a few years ago. So she kind of knows what I look for. But it’s making the house an invitation for someone to come in and say, “Yes, this I can see us living in.” So we try to keep the money in your pocket. We always say de-personalize the home, make it clutter-free. And please make it clean. So we work on things like that little touches. I know that sounds silly, but making sure Kleenex boxes are not out, making toilet seat lids closed, stuff like that, that helps a person not look at details, but look at the property itself.
Jeff Giagnocavo 41:47
That’s great. That’s great. So part of the Lancaster Connects mission here, to highlight charities, highlight special causes in the area, what are you connected to?
Claire Chivington 42:01
So if I get emotional, you’ll have to forgive me because as you can tell, I’m a very passionate person. I’m Italian and you know, Italians feel stuff. I know everybody else does, too. But so there’s actually my team and I donate every year to charities. Whenever a commission check comes in, we take a portion off of that 10% off the commission check and we tuck that away. We support YWAM during the year as a consistent and we have other small charities, this one that you see on the screen, Help the Fight’s gonna make me cry, because this is not public knowledge. But, July of 2020, with COVID, they found a mass in my left breast. And I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a client of mine who I was working with at the time, donated during the Extra Give and said we’re doing it anonymously for you, Claire, but it brought to light this Help the Fight which interestingly enough is founded by a real estate agent and her husband David and Linda Charles, which I didn’t know that. So my team and I are now supporting Help the Fight. And it’s 100% of the money that goes to Help the Fight goes to women who cannot take care of their medical bills. And it’s amazing, the support at the Ann Barshinger Cancer Institute. It’s just amazing the amount of support that you get from them. And then to have an organization like Help the Fight is even more tremendous. So that’s one that we give to. Another one is the PA Veteran’s Foundation. So I am an avid military supporter, my husband, my father, my father in law, relatives, friends have all been in the military. The PA Veteran’s Foundation is again 100% volunteer base, 100% of the profits go to the vets. And sadly COVID was not kind to them, and they lost many 1000s of dollars in donations. And I don’t know that they’re going to stay in business. So that’s one that we are really avid about. The other one is North Star Initiative. And I’m actually a board member and the Secretary on the board of North Star Initiative and I believe that they’re going to be coming on with you guys too, which is cool for the Lancaster Connects.
Jeff Giagnocavo 44:24
And Help the Fight is going to be on too.
Claire Chivington 44:26
Yeah. And tonight actually is “Welcome to the Battle” with North Star Initiative, and they are for women that have been sex trafficked, and they are a wonderful organization that I am very passionate about bringing women out of the human and sex trafficking world and giving them the means to become independent and work through the the trauma. It’s just a very, I’m at a loss for words because it is just something that’s not talked about in our society. And it’s so prevalent, so prevalent. So, and then of course, you’ve got me with the Doberman rescue.
Jeff Giagnocavo 45:13
Yeah, wonderful. Well, you know, on how North Star Initiative helps…and that’s northstarinitiative.org. You know, you hear about this once a year at Superbowl time, right? You hear about prostitution going up, sex trafficking up right here in our backyard, we’ve got a group helping out every day.
Claire Chivington 45:36
Jeff Giagnocavo 45:36
And that’s what this show, again, this was the whole mission of the show when we saw it to bring the light, great people, great charities in our community helping out and we want to be impactful too, in our little way, our little platform, shine some light on them. So there we go. Thank you for sharing that.
Ben McClure 45:45
And thank you for your donations to those charities and your work with them.
Jeff Giagnocavo 45:57
Claire Chivington 45:58
Jeff Giagnocavo 46:00
Yeah, thank you, Claire. So hang on, I have one question for each of you about what you love most about Lancaster. So think about that. I’m going to bring on our Pet of the Week, formally. And our Pet of the week and again, I’m not doing phone stuff. I just it’s it’s Jeff’s little show of mistakes this episode.
Ben McClure 46:20
These aren’t mistakes, these are show enhancements.
Jeff Giagnocavo 46:23
I forgot to print the notes for Gambit. This is Gambit. And he is from a rescue here in Lancaster County, Elizabethtown called Pitties Love Peace. We’ve donated to them in the past. We’ve had a couple of our pups come out to the store. I actually have a high school friend Jackie who spends time there volunteering.
Ben McClure 46:50
That’s a great picture.
Jeff Giagnocavo 46:51
Yeah, so Gambit;s gorgeous Pitbull who joined Pitties LPve peace in 2019 for a state cruelty case. Since then he’s blossomed into wonderful sometimes quirky middle-aged boy he’s certainly past the naughty puppy stage. We have a rule in our house no foster puppies. And that’s you know, because puppies almost always find a home. It’s the older dogs that need your care and concern and you to open up. But Gambit is estimated to be about seven and you’d never know it. He is a lot of energy and would love someone active to explore the world with. His favorite things are long walks and a soft place to nap. This is perfect. We couldn’t have timed it, trying to break the world record for ripping out the stuffing from squeaker toys. Gambit. He loves women in general. And he’s a full fledged ladies man. The good news is he’s a stayer not a player. He can be a little nervous around men. I would imagine that’s from the cruelty case. If I had to venture a guess based on my knowledge of volunteering, working with dogs, but you know, I’ve never seen the dog not be able to come around in the right home, right? So if you can see it in your heart to open up your home, give a dog a little extra time. I’m positive if you’re set up for success with Gambit. Ultimately the best successful Gambit would be a fenced yard. No other pets and not even small children. But that is something to talk to Pitties Love Peace about and you can find them at pitties, p-i-t-t-i-e-s, pities, as in Pitbulls, pittieslovepeace.com. That’s pittieslovepeace.com. You know if you can see it that you want to maybe volunteer your time in your own home and give a dog like this a better chance. That would be tremendous. I mean, to me, that’s a tremendous way to offer time, because you’re going to reward your family with a great dog but talk with them…any rescue. Just be open and honest with them about what your capabilities are what you’re willing to do, and you’ll find a great fit. Gambit looks like a pretty awesome pup, reminds me a lot of my guy Gizmo.
Ben McClure 49:03
I was gonna say that
Jeff Giagnocavo 49:04
Yeah, he’s got that same blocky face. But anyway, that’s Gambit. Pitties Love Peace. You can check in with them. All the links for our Pet of the Week, for Claire and for Pete will be on lancasterconnects.com. So as we wrap up, we’ll bring on the panel.
Jeff Giagnocavo 49:25
Maybe we can just talk about, we’re running up against the clock, but Pete, what do you like the most about Lancaster? And you’re a well traveled man, especially in retirement. You’ve done a decent amount of traveling. Maybe not so much the last year but you know, what do you like most about Lancaster?
Pete Ruggieri 49:50
You know, I grew up in southern Chester County in Kennett Square and I came to Lancaster to go to Millersville and most people that aren’t from Lancaster, think of Lancaster as Lincoln Highway East. Say from Dutch Wonderland down to the Gap Lighthouse. And that’s all they think about. And there’s a lot more in Lancaster to that. And I continued to work in Chester County. And people were amazed that I would commute. And they didn’t realize how many small, locally owned restaurants we had downtown. Whether you wanted Thai, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Himalayan, every culture you can think of, is represented downtown. And the food is amazing. Yeah, so like Lancaster County is way ahead of all these other counties where they’re just all strip malls and no flavor. So I’d say if you’re not from the city and not from the area, take some time go downtown, walk around. The history of downtown is just beautiful. And, you know, I moved out of the city by a mile, but I really loved the city of Lancaster.
Jeff Giagnocavo 51:06
Yeah, yeah. Cool. Well, Pete, thanks for joining us. Claire, what do you like most about Lancaster?
Ben McClure 51:13
Claire’s got an interesting perspective because she’s been in 13 different homes and 13 different places right and settled in Lancaster?
Claire Chivington 51:20
Yep. So to us, Lancaster is home. And out of all the places we lived, I was born and raised in Michigan. And as most people know, Michigan is a very colorful state. Lancaster is beautiful. My husband and I love living here. I’m kind of looking around, because in my mind’s eye I just picture as a real estate agent, how many places I’m driving, when we’re traveling. We love the state and the beauty of it. What drew us to Lancaster County, of course, was his job. What’s kept us in Lancaster County is the community. We just love the people. And it’s becoming a more transient community. But the heart and soul of Lancaster County is still here. And that’s what we love. And the food…just saying!
Jeff Giagnocavo 52:13
Yeah, the flavor. The flavor. Well, yeah, Pete, Claire, thank you so much for joining us on this episode. Episode number four. We really appreciate it. Appreciate your time. All the things you do, Claire for your clients for the rescues, the charities you’re connected with. Pete, the man about town. You might have heard Pete reference Gap Lighthouse, we’ll let you Google that and you can check out Gap Lighthouse and see all of the fun and tomfoolery.
Ben McClure 52:41
I knew he was going to get that in there.
Jeff Giagnocavo 52:42
Oh yeah. This was a this was an interesting interview because you just never know what Pete might say. But Google Gap Lighthouse if you’re into some tomfoolery. But hey listen, go to lancasterconnects.com. You’ll be able to get all the links no matter where you like to watch or listen to this show. You can get it there and you can enter to win our weekly drawings for the restaurant gift cards. And most importantly, join the Lancaster Connects Community, please, if you have time to volunteer, join us, send your information in, it’s all the same form, so you’re doing like two things at once. You’re entering the contest and you’re joining the form by clicking the box. That’s lancasterconnects.com. We’ll connect you with great charities that need your help, alright? That’s this episode of Lancaster Connects. We did it.
Ben McClure 53:34
We did it.
Jeff Giagnocavo 53:35
Alright, take care.
Ben McClure 53:36
Get Super Cereal.