goodMrkt Is All About Doing Good

Meet the man behind the vision, Harry Cunningham.

Harry Cunningham of goodMrkt

Drawing on his vast experience in merchandising and marketing, Harry Cunningham has embraced the ever-changing world of retail, which ultimately led him to co-found goodMrkt, an e-commerce site for socially and cause-driven brands. goodMrkt also has a physical location in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Additionally, Mr. Cunningham serves as Managing Partner for goodMrkt. We recently caught up with him, and he kindly shared his vision as well as his award-winning formula for success.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started on your career path. My career began with a 10-year stint at Dillard’s. I started as a part-time associate and worked my way up to a Regional Visual Merchandising Manager. During my time at Dillard’s, I met my now wife, Shara (Sokoloff) Cunningham, a graduate of FIDM! 

In 1999, Saks Incorporated, parent brand for Saks Fifth Avenue and (at the time) seven other department store brands, recruited me to join their corporate office as Creative Director. From there, I was promoted to VP of Visual Merchandising for two of the divisions, based in Knoxville, TN. My wife worked in stores as well, moving up to a shoe buyer role—and was fortunate to work for some of the leading retailers of our time. 

Our division of Saks was sold in 2005, giving us the opportunity to either continue on with the division and join Belk Stores, or look for other opportunities. 

I took the risk and began searching, ultimately landing a role at Liz Claiborne Inc in NYC. A short 15 months later, the CEO of Saks called and recruited me back to Saks to lead the rebranding and redesign for the Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH division. Ultimately, I was promoted to SVP, Store Planning, Design, and Visual Merchandising for Saks Fifth Avenue–with responsibility for stores around the world. 

In 2014, I joined a former colleague from Saks, taking on a leadership role at Vera Bradley–overseeing all store development, visual merchandising, and creative. 

Building on the brand strengths and good foundations of Vera Bradley and sister-brand Pura Vida, the goodMRKT concept was developed as a test lab for retail in 2021. The purpose-driven store opened with 34 brands, all “doing good around the world”, to rave reviews from customers and press. The fall of 2021 saw the launch of our website,, and we opened a seasonal pop-up in New York City for Holiday 2021. 

In the summer of 2022, the decision was made to spin off the successful concept, and my wife and I purchased the goodMRKT brand from VRA, Inc. We are managing partners of the business. I oversee all brand creative, marketing, presentation, and partnerships, and Shara oversees all new brand introductions and buying.

Tell us a bit about some of the brands offered at goodMRKT. Our partner brands span a wide variety of categories and causes. From Sackcloth & Ashes, a blanket brand utilizing a 1-for-1 model and providing a blanket to someone in a homeless shelter for every blanket sold to ABLE, a lifestyle brand providing dignified employment for women who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation across the globe, to Ellis Brooklyn, a NY-based clean fragrance brand – each of our partners is committed to doing good. To date, we’ve provided more than 3500 weeks of clean water, we’ve eliminated more than 1400 pounds of pesticides from production, and we’ve given more than 2400 meals to children. And we’re just getting started!

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in branding and retail these last few years? Without a doubt, there’s a return to physical stores. And people want experiences when they’re there… I think AI will continue to impact the way we do business, and I’m excited that the world has embraced using QR codes. We, in fact, use QR codes in our stores–and in our recently published book (The Story of Good by Victoria Duerstock, Endgame Press) to share videos from the founders of our brand partners. 

Additionally, I think the best brands will continue to celebrate their positive impacts on the environment and the world – sharing details about their ethical production, their sustainability, and the employment initiatives as part of their brand story will be paramount to their success.

goodMKRT recently received the Brand Experience Award in Marketplace Strategies and Technology. Congratulations! What was that experience like for you? Thank you! We are tremendously honored to receive this award… and proud to be among such incredible company. Experience is in our DNA… we have a café in the store, our associates are all storytellers, and we constantly look for ways to improve discovery in-store and online. Our podcast, GOODMRKT LIVE, (now in season two) allows our customers to learn more about the good they can do when they shop with us.

What advice would you offer a young person who is interested in pursuing a career in marketing and branding? Most importantly—be willing to start at the bottom. Get your hands dirty. The most successful people I’ve ever worked with have been on every rung of the ladder. Not only does that help you best understand all the working parts of the business, but it also allows you to develop stronger knowledge of what challenges your team might face when you’re the leader, and it will help you best understand how your strengths–and your opportunities–will impact the team and the business. 

From a creative perspective, take risks… fail fast, and fail forward. Learn from everything you do. Be willing to say, “I don’t know”, but always follow that with “but I’ll find out”. And then find out. Finally, listen to learn from every person you meet. There are incredible stories out there… the more you know, the more you grow.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? Other advice? I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and work alongside some of the most interesting and impressive talent in the industry. It’s been an honor, and I’m excited for where goodMRKT will go, hoping that we continue to build on the momentum of our first two years. Through all of that though, my family and my small circle of very close friends are always first. They keep me grounded, they’re my biggest critics and they’re my boldest champions. Find your family… support them, and they’ll support you.

Learn more about FIDM’s Merchandising & Marketing program.

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