#HoustonStrong

We have all been watching the news, concerned about those who live and work in Houston. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastation they are going through right now. We can only hope the worst is behind them.

Now is the time for us to come together to help those so profoundly impacted by the floods. We need to let them know we are there are them – today, tomorrow and in the weeks and months to come.

Here are some links for organizations currently accepting monetary donations as shared by Huffington Post:

  1. American Red Cross
  2. The Salvation Army
  3. GoFundMe Hurricane Harvey
  4. ASPCA

For in-kind donations, including blood, please check into these organizations:

  1. South Texas Blood
  2. Texas Diaper Bank – currently accepting donations but may take in-kind as well
  3. Feeding Texas

And finally, as an industry, there are ways we can step in to help the residents of Houston – both apartment renters and single-family owners.

  1. Consider offering model and vacant units as temporary housing. Airbnb is waiving its fees right now, this might be an option as well.
  2. Host meals for those who are displaced or for First Responders and volunteers in the field, or even better for all.
  3. Take moment to promote donation channels on your social media channels. Feel free to use this blog post to share some links.
  4. Engage your residents and collect in-kind donations of clothing, toiletries, household items, etc.
  5. If your property is pet friendly, consider becoming a foster to displaced pets. Or wave pet fees for any current residents who want to become a foster. Check out The Animal Defense League of Texas or San Antonio Pets Alive to sign up.

Although the devastation is happening right now, Houston is forever changed and will need assistance for weeks, months and potentially even years to come. I know what the multifamily industry is capable of and I urge you to consider holding donation drives throughout the year to help those in Houston – don’t let this be a one-time donation.

We can all help to build up this community to be #HoustonStrong once again!

~ Much love from the Package Concierge Team

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Skip the Stores: Browse the Web This Year for Back-to-School Necessities

A new school year is upon us. Time to gear up – mentally and physically.

Traditional back-to-school shopping in stores can be overwhelming. Aisles and checkout lanes get congested, hot supplies can sell out quickly.  Sometimes you run around all over town looking for that one thing that doesn’t even seem to exist – like that elusive yellow pocket folder.

Purchasing school, even college, necessities online can be a huge time-saver. It can also be extremely beneficial for sparing sanity and conserving the bank account. Here are some of the top websites for all your back-to-school necessities from clothing to classroom supplies:

Target + Walmart

Target offers a larger variety of brands and price ranges in-store, but nothing really beats the Target.com feature “School List Assist.” It allows users to order a student’s entire school list with one click. Find all your supplies behind a desktop or click of a mobile device, and you’re all. Shoppers can either have the haul delivered or pick it up at a store. Like Target, Walmart.com also allows users to purchase entire school supply lists with one click.

Amazon

The retail giant is an obvious go-to online shopping choice, especially when it comes down to big savings on textbook expenses. Amazon really does have it all in addition to reliable, fast delivery options. Students can also gain significant savings with a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime Student, and 50 percent off a Prime membership upon upgrade.

Staples + Office Depot

Staples has every type of in-classroom gear any student at any level could ever need, sometimes accompanied by great sales. Office Depot offers free delivery on qualifying orders of $9.99 or more if you’re in one of its local delivery areas. Oh, and your online order will be ready in an hour.

Pinterest

This isn’t really a typical place to shop for school necessities. It does offer great ideas for all types of school supplies, it also has so many different, unique products for purchase. You can search under

“buyable pins” for anything from clothing to pencils or even dorm room decor. Simply browsing Pinterest can also give people plenty of great ideas for repurposing old items or finding cheap, easy DIY projects.

DormCo

Here’s a website where you can purchase bulk packages of dorm essentials at massive bundled savings. Everything you need for college, from bed sheets and cooking gear, to desk supplies and backpacks, is on dormco.com. And shipping is always $2.95 on your entire order, whether you order one time or 100.

Dollar Tree

If you’re just going for mega-savings, this is your best option, hands down. This is a great place to help stock up your teacher’s supplies too. Think pens, notepads, stickers, sticky notes, antibacterial wipes, tissues and even zip-lock bags. It is a one-stop shop to help provide some much needed supplies for those teachers who work so hard for our kids.

Back-to-school in Multifamily

Keeping in mind that 37 percent of American households rent rather than own – and 61 percent of these renters live in apartments – having a reliable way to retrieve packages is a must for a significant segment of back-to-school shoppers.

This is where apartment operators should take heed. Roughly 25 percent of your residents are currently in some state of back-to-school mode, and they crave a safe, secure and convenient place to get their items. This is another hidden season in which a package locker system – or package room for larger purchases such as bedding and desks – can make a world of difference for your residents and keep your leasing offices from pulling up with back-to-school supplies.

Whether consumers are picking up school gear at the store or getting it delivered, online shopping has undoubtedly transformed the art of back-to-school shopping.  Apartment communities that provide a reliable place to receive the influx of new goodies are ahead of the game.

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Finding Cheaper Textbooks Half the Battle, Receiving Them Promptly is the Challenge

Some college textbooks seem to weigh about 12 pounds. Yet, it’s often the cost of these textbooks that weigh students down more than the actual pounds in their backpacks.

Textbooks have often-astronomical costs, adding several hundred dollars to an already pricey tuition fee. So now students, more than ever, are seeking alternative options in the form of used textbooks.

Websites such as Amazon, eCampus, Chegg and Valore Books offer textbooks at significant savings, changing the book-buying ways of many students. But ordering a textbook is one thing. Receiving it is another.

Student housing communities equipped with package lockers and package rooms make it easy for their students. Order it. Receive a message when it arrives. Pick it up. But for the many who live at communities that don’t offer a package service, the time-sensitive shipment might take significantly longer to get into your hands.

That puts the student in a tough spot, because you need a quick turnaround. You don’t want to be the one glancing at your neighbor’s textbook during the lesson, or someone who has to borrow one from a classmate while awaiting the arrival of yours.

Hopefully your student housing community has a reliable package management solution. But if it doesn’t, here are a few options for to consider for those who have ordered their textbooks but don’t have a surefire way to receive them in a timely, hassle-free manner:

  • Have them shipped to the home of a local friend.

    Odds are that you know someone who lives in a house off campus, particularly if you’re an upperclassman. Ask if you can have the textbooks delivered there. Even if it means you have to pick up lunch on your shoestring budget, at least you’ll have your books in time.

  • Have them delivered to your hometown address.

    If you have early access to the textbooks you’ll need, order them early. You can have them delivered to your parents’ house before your summer vacation ends. This also works if your college isn’t far from your hometown and it’s no problem to go retrieve them.

  • Get an off-campus post office box.

    If you’re concerned about the way packages are handled at your community, perhaps it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on a P.O. Box. That way you’ll receive a slip in the mail when packages arrive instead of wondering how long it will take for your shipment to be sorted from the other hundreds of packages at the community.

Receiving your textbooks from a secondary source – often at a fraction of the rate – is a magnificent idea. Just make sure you have a way to retrieve them in a timely manner so it doesn’t backfire.

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