Through a combination of luck and ingenuity, Victoria’s Luv-A-Rug has navigated the pandemic very well — and owner Stephen “Dusty” Roberts has wasted no time passing on his fortune to others in need.
A surge in spring cleaning kept the business hopping in the pandemic’s early days, plus Roberts had the foresight to invest in high-tech disinfecting equipment just before COVID-19 came to Canada. Initially he planned to use the equipment to augment the cleaning he already did on cruise ships, but soon he was renting it out to local companies, and loaning it to charities for free.
Then Roberts installed a webcam to livestream his daily rug cleaning, and viewers tuned in from around the world! That’s led to even more business, and even more contributions to charities and community groups.
Here’s how Luv-A-Rug spread the LOVE…
- The Luv-A-Senior fundraising event: When the pandemic hit, seniors living in nursing homes were completely locked down and unable to socialize with family and friends or even go outside. The long-term social isolation and loneliness had devastating effects a seniors’ physical and mental health — including Dusty Roberts’ father. But after discovering birdwatching was shown to help isolated seniors in nursing homes reconnect with nature and their health, Dusty had an idea. He raised over $10,000 in two months to buy hundreds of hummingbird feeders, food and metal stands which he distributed to senior care facilities all over greater Victoria.
- 2-for-1 with a bit of love: With business booming while so many others were struggling in Spring 2020, Roberts launched a fundraising campaign for the Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund. Customers paid full price for their first rug, and got a second rug cleaned for free as long as they made a donation to the charity. The promotion raised over $7000 in about two months!
- Free cleaning of classroom rugs: When Luv-A-Rug heard School District 61 was cutting back on cleaning in 2017, they offered to clean classroom rugs for free. So many teachers reached out that Luv-A-Rug had to rent shipping containers to handle the workload, and staff gave up much of their Christmas holidays to take care of the job. Thankfully the school district soon reinstated daily vacuuming, though Luv-A-Rug still does free deep cleans on classroom rugs.
- Saving hurricane-ravaged rugs in New Orleans: Back in 2005, Roberts received a frantic call from a business associate in need of an extra machine to help restore priceless rugs damaged by Hurricane Katrina . Roberts flew down to hand-deliver the machine, and soon volunteered to collect more rugs from the wreckage. “Good quality handmade rugs are extremely resilient and can be easily restored if you get to them in time,” Roberts says. Often an heirloom rug was the only salvageable item from a flood-damaged home, and Roberts travelled the city offering his advice and services.
- Local fundraising and rug donations: Luv-A-Rug regularly collects rug donations, which they clean free of charge and pass on to charities like Habitat for Humanity and WIN.