Shout From the Rooftops
There are always options. When budgets are frozen, events are postponed and orders are getting canceled, a small independent business might circle the wagons and play it safe. Others will struggle along and do their best to make it through the hard times.
Another choice is to look at it like Andy Holst at Embroidery and Screen Works. When COVID-19 reared its head in March and the stock market tumbled, as customers delayed or canceled orders until conditions improved, they took the approach of confronting it. They planted a flag and shouted it from the rooftops: We are “Here For Good.”
The Hyperlocal Approach
Embroidery and Screen Works is an independent promotional apparel supplier in South Dakota with about a dozen employees prior to the pandemic. About 15 years ago, they adapted their business to provide web stores, online storefronts selling customized apparel. “That’s easy to do these days,” Andy says, stressing that they focus on service, product knowledge and delivery time.
“Here For Good 605 was hyperlocal and grassroots all the way,” states Andy. The web store model they already used facilitated offering products promoting local businesses in a single storefront. “You could go on and buy gear from your favorite restaurant, your favorite brewery, your favorite flowershop…all in one transaction.”
Here For Good 605
The Emboridery and Screen Works campaign was not the first one of its kind in the country. Here For Good 605 was based on an idea from Sloan Coleman of Tiny Little Monster, who started the first Here For Good campaign in response to the pandemic in St. Louis.
EASW’s campaign built on the same principle: sell shirts promoting local businesses with half the proceeds going back to support those same businesses. “It would be cool,” Andy recalls thinking in the early days of the campaign, “if the screenprinting industry could raise a million bucks.”
Here For Good 605 has certainly made its contribution to that goal. Within five days of launching it they had about 200 businesses on board, mainly through promotion on Facebook and Instagram. “People thought it was too good to be true,” says Andy. The campaign was originally slated to last two weeks, but was extended to run for a month due to the extraordinary response they received.
Andy describes the process as “a little bit of pandemonium for a while.” The orders received over 4 weeks were all fulfilled in-house, so there were piles of shirts to be sent all over the country. In April, EASW was “consumed” by the campaign. Within 6 weeks, every order had been sent, and they had sold about $80,000 in shirts, which meant a donation of more than $40,000 back to local businesses and organizations.
Some businesses not as affected by the pandemic, such as construction companies, were able to extend that even further by sending their money instead to local food banks.
Despite the added chaos, Andy is pleased with how the campaign went. “People were hungry for some good news and looking for distractions from the uncertainty,” says Andy, describing the reactions he received. “And it kept our employees busy too.” Even during a time of slow buying and economic slowdown, Here For Good 605 meant that some EASW employees went from working part-time to overtime during April and May.
At the height of the campaign, Andy started wondering how a grassroots effort like this could become something more. “We met with a marketing company in Los Angeles and put together a creative fundraising model that would work beyond COVID.”
Threads4Good is the result. Modeled on Here For Good but with a national approach, it acts as a platform for fundraising for local businesses and non-profit organizations. “We’re still working on identifying the right affiliations and finding partners who can work at that scale,” says Andy.
With a bold statement and a look to the future, Here For Good 605 represents the positive message we can all benefit from right now.