The radio ads announce a must-see last episode of the NBC sitcom ER tonight. I am feeling nostalgic, not because of the loss of a favorite show-- I haven't watched it regularly in years--but because of the intimate link between the success of Bud's Warehouse and ER nine years ago.
In January of 2000, Bud's Warehouse was still in the early stages of its start-up. On any given month, it was an open question as to whether the organization was going to succeed or fail. Unexpectedly, we received a call from Mark Koebrich at 9News wanting to do a sweeps month story on how Bud's was the best kept secret in Denver.
A month later the story aired on the best possible night. Denver was in the midst of its biggest snowstorm of the season so everyone was turning into the news to see the weather report for the morning. ER preceded the news with a much-hyped show about the death of a key character. It was the perfect storm for Denver NBC television viewership. I read a couple of weeks later that it was the biggest Denver audience for a show up to that point. And the next morning, with a foot of snow on the ground, Bud's Warehouse was circled by hundreds of people waiting to enter the store.
As they say, the rest is history. Overnight, Bud's sales grew by 400%. The organization was able to dramatically increase the number of individuals it employed rebuilding lives from homelessness, addiction or prison. Bud's also used its new-found profits to start-up 3 new ventures--Baby Bud's, the Good Neighbor Garage, and Freedom Cleaning Services-- to employ even more individuals.
So when I hear of ER's last show, I fondly remember how God used a television drama and 9News to help create second chances for hundreds of Denver area individuals.
I hear it might even snow.