It started as an idea to help local small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the “We Give A Shirt” fundraiser is hitting a big milestone. The campaign will soon donate more than $50,000 to help local small businesses.
In just three weeks, the fundraising effort has sold more than $120,000 in custom, limited edition T-shirts. The shirts feature local small businesses. Everything from bars and restaurants, to bookstores and local bands are featured. Proceeds from the sales of the shirts are donated directly to the business featured on it. The idea came from Sean Mooney and his team at Showpony, the merchandising extension of downtown Augusta-based marketing firm Wier / Stewart.
“Having people reach out and spend their own money to help support small businesses and also get a T-shirt is something that we never thought would just take off as well as it has,” said Mooney.
Since customers can’t support their favorite local businesses in the usual way, they are buying that businesses custom T-shirt instead.
“A lot of that has to do with them reaching out to their community on their facebook and on their instagram,” said Mooney. “And so their community rallies behind it and it’s really been awesome,” he added.
Each custom $20 unisex shirt is on sale for one week, then new businesses are featured every Tuesday and Friday. The “We Give A Shirt” website keeps around 20 shirts available at one time. More than 150 businesses have applied online to be featured according to Mooney.
“It’s been really cool to build that anticipation,” said Mooney. “People have come to know they’re going to drop at those points, and they really get excited about the new shirts,” he added.
Sandy Watkins, owner of Sports Center Bar and Grill has the top-selling shirt so far, with more than 400 sold during the one week availability. She got a check for more than $4,000.
If you missed out on your favorite shirt, there still may be a chance to get it and help support your favorite spot.
“At the end of the sales period, which is a 7-day sales period, we give the business the opportunity to purchase extras to later sell when they reopen,” said Mooney. “So if you missed your favorite and it’s in the sold out section, you can check with your local business when they reopen, and see if they have extra units for sale,” he said.
Watkins isn’t the only business owner to benefit and be grateful for the donation. Barry Blackston has owned downtown Augusta’s Nacho Mama’s for 24 years. He is also part owner of Stillwater Tap Room next door. The Nacho Mama’s and Stillwater shirts combined to total 357 shirts sold, raising more than $3,5000. He says the donation was much needed and appreciated.
“And it was at a time when owners like me were thinking of so many other things they had to deal with,” said Blackston. “So it was very kind of him to do that, because we were trying to figure out how to take care of employees, and pay the bills and so forth, so it was very kind.”