How DiscountMugs' Donated Promo Products Are Helping South Florida Small Businesses Stay Open
Reading the news is hard right now. Every day it seems like the headlines just get more and more depressing. But, in the immortal words of Mr. Rogers—even when the world looks scariest, you can always look for the helpers.
It’s been inspiring to see businesses step up over the last few months. In the blink of an eye, even the largest and most secure businesses were feeling the economic sting from COVID-19. For small businesses, this was truly devastating. What can consumers do? We can’t keep a business propped up single-handedly, as much as we might like to. We can order takeout from our favorite neighborhood restaurants or buy things from an online store or curbside pickup, but it’s not always enough.
The promo industry, though, is uniquely positioned to assist small businesses by donating products and services that can help attract customers and generate funds. It’s a long-term solution, too, and it gives small businesses one fewer thing to worry about right now. Also, for businesses that before now had never needed to think about PPE, like restaurants and retail, keeping employees protected is a new challenge and headache.
To do its part, DiscountMugs.com stepped in by awarding small businesses in South Florida with thousands of dollars worth of promotional products and PPE items, which has helped keep them afloat over the last few months.
“We had read and heard about many small businesses in the area struggling to keep their business operations running due to the pandemic,” said Mario Cordon, chief marketing officer for DiscountMugs.com, Medley, Fla. “For example, many businesses have struggled to find supplies like hand sanitizers and face masks, and we have been able to use our extensive experience in global procurement to be able to provide our customers with a reliable source of PPE. And many businesses saw their sales adversely affected by the pandemic. We also knew that the impact had been pretty broad across our community, so we decided to put together a program to help a diverse group of small businesses in Miami and surrounding areas. We made a very concerted effort to help businesses located in different parts of the city.”
DiscountMugs awarded six different businesses—including a restaurant, a tattoo parlor, a barber shop and a donut shop—each with $2,000 in merchandise.
“We lost 90 percent of our business overnight,” Michelle and Bella Sanchez, owners of Latin House Grill, said. “For a period of three months, we have it brought up to 25 percent. Since it’s a family business, it’s been hard to keep the older family members at home and provide some sort of income for them. We started with outside seating, but the rainy weather did not help. We started going strong on deliveries to sustain the business. We have now incorporated our Fit Meal weekly meal service to supplement business. Our goal is to be back on track hopefully by the end of the year.”
Cordon said that Latin House has been using Instagram to engage with customers and host coffee mug giveaways using the promotional products distributed by DiscountMugs.
“We love our ‘cafecito’ here in Miami, and Latin House Grill brews some of the best,” Cordon said. “Promotional products have an element of fun to them, and that makes it easy to use them in engaging and innovative ways. It just takes a bit of creativity, and our participants like Mojo Donuts, Topp Cuttaz and 90 Miles Tattoo have shown that we have an abundance of that here in Miami.”
DiscountMugs has a history of helping out its community during the pandemic, having previously donated 11,000 masks to senior citizens and 500 face shields to Miami area health care professionals. From there, the company was looking for more ways to use its products and its capabilities to help out its neighbors.
“It was very fulfilling for us to see the benefit of those donations, so we wanted to keep finding opportunities to support our local community,” Cordon said. “Just imagine how rewarding it is for us to be able to help some of our most iconic small businesses here in Miami, like Robert is Here Fruit Stand, which started as a fruit stand on the side of the road, and today it is an international tourist destination.”
The New York Times published a story the first week of August hypothesizing that one-third of New York City’s small businesses could close as a result of the pandemic. Since March 1, almost 3,000 businesses in the city have had to shut their doors forever. Government subsidies acted as a Band-Aid for a while, but in a lot of cases the money wasn’t enough, or simply didn’t come. There’s probably at least one business in your town that had to close right now. It’s widespread, and it’s going to continue.
Every bit of help counts. And when DiscountMugs and other companies implement programs like this, it doesn’t just assist small businesses. It helps preserve the identity of neighborhoods, towns and cities.
“We strongly believe in giving back to our community,” Cordon said. “That is something that is simply very important to our mission at DiscountMugs. We have customers, employees and other stakeholders here in South Florida. We want to be responsible citizens and contribute towards the overall wellness of our community. We also hope that this very modest program can somehow become a little bit of a catalyst, and influence other companies and organizations to get involved in helping small and medium businesses. [These] are the major drivers of employment in the U.S. by far. If we can continue to find ways to help [small and medium businesses] get through these unprecedented times, we will all be better off sooner rather than later.”
His advice? Get involved. That’s it. Find a local business that needs help, support your local health care providers, provide supplies to schools in need.
“You will enjoy it, and you have the power to contribute very positively in your local community,” Cordon said. “...You have the power to drive a lot of impact. Just get started.”