A campaign conceived by a local creative agency to help other small businesses has struck a note with Sarnians.
Shirtsforsarnia.com raised $5,000 its first 24 hours, says Liwordson Vijayabalan, president and creative director of tmrrw inc.
His staff recognized the financial struggle many businesses face in the pandemic and created the shirtsforsarnia.com campaign in their spare time.
“We know it’s harder for businesses to ask for help,” Vijayabalan said. “That’s why we built it and did all the design work for free.”
Tmrrw inc. isn’t pocketing any proceeds from the shirtsforsarnia.com online store, which is offering 18 shirts priced between $25 and $40. They sport an array of Sarnia-related logos that celebrate the “Great Indoors,” Canatara Park, the sunset and more.
All revenue is directed to a long list of local businesses and charities listed at the site’s checkout. Customers choose which they want to support, said Vijayabalan.
“People feel like they are in control of it,” he said. “So they aren’t just buying one at a time. They’re buying two, three, four, even eight at a time.
“We’re on track to raise $10,000 in the first three days.”
At least 60 small businesses and Sarnia charities have signed on to benefit from shirtsforsarnia.com. About 70% are businesses, said Vijayabalan.
His own small business, started four years ago, has so far been able to keep the entire staff working – five in Sarnia and 12 contract workers.
“We’ve definitely taken a hit from COVID-19 but we qualify for the 75% wage subsidy (from the federal government) and we’re doing alright.
“We had some free time and we could have focused on internal stuff,” he said. “But we know so much is going on with local businesses and we want to make a difference.”
Vijayabalan estimated his staff’s free branding and design work would otherwise have cost $10,000 if not donated.
The campaign also benefits local charities because they’re suffering from cancelled events and stymied fundraising, he said.
The shirtsforsarnia.com campaign continues to May 31. At that time, shirt orders will be filled and the money distributed.