St. Louis local business support during COVID-19

Love for the Lou in the Age of COVID19

In these unusual circumstances, life has changed for everyone. Students are doing their work from home and seniors are missing their final games, proms, and other hallmark events. There are a select few workers who are working remotely, but many others are unfortunately unemployed. In public, people are walking around dawning masks and gloves. And many, many businesses have made significant cuts, have seen significant losses, and are trying to figure out how to survive this. Though this has been a profound challenge for all of us, good can still come of it, for it’s in times of crisis and challenge that the creativity and goodwill of our fellow community members come to light.

How are fellow small printing businesses fairing this spring? One could look at it as a sort of sink-or-swim exercise in creativity. With many surrounding businesses closed, a patchwork of various emergency government orders in place across the country, and physical distancing acting as the guiding principle in our daily lives, it goes without saying that businesses that are still operating have had to come up with new solutions to stay profitable, keep their employees employed, and lift community spirits. Some local screen printers in the St Louis area have been exceptionally successful in doing just that.

Sloan Coleman, from Tiny Little Monster’s, came up with the idea to invert their traditional model. Typically Tiny Little Monster sets up individual estores for their clients as a platform for the client to display and sell the adorable, creative, or weird branded merchandise they have created for them. Right now, shoppers can visit Tiny Little Monster’s website to shop a variety of shirts designed for an impressive list of fellow local businesses including breweries, coffee shops, hair salons, yoga studios, and more.

Coleman started this campaign, penned #HereforGood, by reaching out to past clients to pitch the idea. They started with just 10 companies and are now well past 170. In the beginning, the only type of garment offered were solid color tees, $20 each, but now companies like Flowers to the People and Earthbound Brewing have their design on a tank or a baseball tee. Half of the proceeds go to the company they represent, meaning 100% of the money supports local businesses.

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As of April 30, Tiny Little Monster has raised $72,290 of its $100,000 goal according to the website and they are now in Phase 2 of the #HereforGood movement. Clients can submit their own designs or enlist the help of the Tiny Little Monster creative team to come up with something shirt-worthy.

Shirt Kong out of St Peters, Missouri has started a similar program. After having to lay off a significant number of employees, owner Andy Rudman knew he had to do something. After speaking to Coleman and hearing about her idea, Shirt Kong launched their version, Support St Chuck & The Lou. Theirs is made up of all tees, selling for $24 each, with half of the proceeds going to those companies represented on the shirts as well. So far, Shirt Kong has raised nearly $17,000, surpassing their $10,000 goal according to their website.

The Women’s Creative and the Experience Booklet have partnered with local designers and boutiques to form a collective known as #314TOGETHER. Drea Ranek sells a variety of stickers, hats, and shirts representing this collective through her business, 2Lu.

Baked T’s, a local St. Louis DTG printing business had to close their physical store but that has not stopped them. They are printing online and even offering customized artwork help over the phone for t-shirts and customized face masks.

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These are just a few garment decorators in the St. Louis community who have stepped up to meet the multidimensional challenge this pandemic has proven itself to be. It’s easy to get bogged down by the daily infection counts and fatalities persistently covered in the media, not to mention the abysmal state of the economy. This is why it’s even more important than ever to stay positive, band together (metaphorically, albeit not physically, not yet), and inspire and support each other.

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