Local campaign aims to boost small businesses during pandemic

Local campaign aims to boost small businesses during pandemic






COURTESY RECOVER BRANDS
Apparel company Recover Brands unveiled a fundraiser using proceeds from sales of T-shirts to a fund to support small businesses.

Local businesses cannot afford to wait for economic help after COVID-19 passes.

Larger corporate and government entities have constructed varying response funds to aid nonprofits and other groups following the pandemic. Yet with restaurants restricted to takeout and delivery only, and Mecklenburg County entering a three-week stay at home period beginning on March 26 at 8 a.m., small businesses have something else in mind.

Local eco-friendly apparel company Recover Brands, which uses recycled plastic bottles and upcycled cotton, launched a #SupportLocal fundraiser to provide immediate economic relief instead. The shirts are $25, and $10 from each sale goes directly to one of their small business partners, such as Enderly Coffee, which was founded by Tony and Becky Santoro. The couple aren’t just roasting coffee beans in an underserved part of Charlotte, rather they provide mentorship and employment, helping employees attain personal goals like higher education.

Johnston considers the shirt a simple call to action to help small businesses. They’ve sold 81 shirts as of Wednesday morning. The goal is to give each of their small business partners a couple thousand dollars based on sales.

“It’s almost a localized stimulus package that small business is doing for itself, because we can’t sit back and wait for the government to do something,” said Bill Johnston, president and co-founder of Recover Brands. “There’s a lot of talk of plans, but it seems to be a lot of partisan politics and things haven’t been decided yet. Even once they are, it’s going to take a long time for that money to be distributed. This is a way we can provide more immediate funds to keep the lights on in the short term. We’re at a point right now where the economy has shut down so drastically across all industries that we have to take it month to month and think about what can we do in the short term to help each other out and keep going.”

Fundraising is familiar territory for Recover Brands. In 2018, it launched a fundraiser for hurricane disaster relief for Hurricane Florence called #CAREolinas. Former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wore the shirt during a press conference, and the fundraiser took off.

“We sold 13,000 shirts through that fundraiser in two weeks,” Johnston said. “We were able to distribute $130,000 to disaster relief. One of the big reasons for that was that the Panthers got on board, and we were able to cast a pretty big net. If we can get traction behind this fundraiser, there is no reason that something like that is not attainable. Those would be significant dollars that would really go a long way for these businesses.”

“We sell a lot into retail channels,” Johnston said. “Think about your local running store, for example, Run for Your Life is one of our partners on this, and we work with them on the Charlotte Marathon as well. Businesses like that depend on people coming in their stores every day to buy new running shoes or apparel are kind of hit immediately with it. It’s the same thing with outdoor stories and some of our brewery partners and coffee shops. They built models around people coming in and enjoying their product on premises. It’s really a lot of those daily places that we all love to visit that are immediately affected by it. Our hope is that we can provide immediate relief so these businesses can continue to stay open and serve our community for the long haul.”

To support: https://recoverbrands.com/products/support-small-business

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