Like many small businesses on Main Street in Clarion, DE Sports, Inc., which specializes in the screen printing and embroidery of apparel, has been negatively impacted by coronavirus-related shut downs. With orders for customized clothing tapering off, the store’s owner, Dave Estadt, turned his attention to helping other community businesses in their time of need. The result was birth of the “Clarion STRONG” T-shirt campaign.

Going live April 8, Estadt opened an online store selling grey T-shirts with the logo of local businesses on the front. Half the cost from every purchase went to the featured business so it could financially assist its employees. In all, 21 different shirts were available, each representing one of several Clarion-area restaurants, bars, shops, and non-profit organizations.

“The idea actually came from a company I use that helps me create online stores for my customers. I received a couple of examples in my email from other people that were doing this. I thought, ‘Well, why not? This is something Clarion could use.’ If we (DE Sports) could help in any way I wanted to help,” Estadt said.

“I sold each shirt for $20 and they (the business) got $10 and I got $10. That $10 isn’t going into my pocket, it was spent right back out, it covered the cost of the shirt and printing. There was really no profit built in.”

Shirts were not only purchased locally, but also by people in a variety of states including Idaho, Washington, Iowa and Illinois. Estadt recognized some of the out-of-state buyers as former Clarion residents and believes others were relatives of people that own businesses here.

“The reaction was very positive. A lot of people appreciated that we did this. They wanted to really help local businesses. People commented that when this is over they are really going to focus their purchasing power with local businesses as much as possible,” Estadt noted.

“Clarion will come back (from coronavirus shutdowns). Clarion is a vital little community and our businesses are a big part of that. There are going to be changes, but Clarion will adapt. We’re resilient, we can figure out how to do it. We have great support from local people.”

The “Clarion STRONG” T-shirt sale ended May 8, with 521 shirts sold, generating $5,210 for local businesses. In addition, two individuals donated a combined $1,330 to be distributed with the funds raised through the shirt sale.

Estadt recently created a “Cook Forest STRONG” fundraiser, structured similarly to the recently concluded Clarion-based support activity. The new campaign features T-shirts for 14 businesses in the Cook Forest area, which can be purchased through an online store at https://cookforeststrong.itemorder.com/sale

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