How a Distributor Helped Raise $11,000 for Local Businesses Through Fundraising Stores
Seeing towns and cities rally around their local businesses that were so affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring. A lot of these campaigns have involved selling merchandise to raise money, as was the case for Kelley Rice, owner of Imagination Print & Design, Oswego, Ill., who got to be a part of the effort to raise money for local businesses in her town through promotional products and fundraising stores.
Promo Marketing: Can you give us some background on the promotion?
Kelley Rice: When the floor fell out from under all of us, we were trying to find a way to keep not only us going, but our surrounding small businesses as well. One of the main client-bases we have are schools, doing their spirit wear and sports team stores. All of those were canceled, but we still had the tools to build the online stores and raise funds. So we decided we should create fundraising stores for local small businesses. After a day or two of brainstorming, it morphed into one online web store called LightUpOswego.com.
The Oswego Downtown Association had come up with the tag, and we added the web store to it. Every business that wanted to be involved could participate at no cost or obligation to them. We would work with them to design a T-shirt, sweatshirt and V-neck. They sold for $20, $36 and $25 respectively. Ten dollars from every item purchased went directly back to that business. Some businesses chose to donate the funds raised to local charities. We had over 40 businesses participate, and we raised over $11,000!
PM: What did you like most about this promotion in particular?
KR: I loved how it brought the community together. Customers are picking up their orders and thanking us for giving them a way to support their favorite local businesses and organizations. People want to help, but found it hard when many businesses are closed. It really generated a buzz in the town and we ended up reopening the store for a second round of orders.
PM: Did you run into any roadblocks during this promotion? If so, how did you overcome them?
KR: The biggest roadblock personally was dealing with many new customers who aren’t familiar with our system, and dealing with them at a time when we were short-staffed as well. The phone rang constantly and people wanted their orders immediately. I had to re-educate a new set of customers on how the online store process works. We don’t print or fulfill any orders until the store deadline, and from that point it takes us two or three weeks.
PM: What advice would you give distributors looking to do something similar?
KR: Do it! If you are set up to print and fulfill orders, it was a wonderful experience that really brought the town together and raised money at a time when everyone is struggling. I was able to keep my employees working and help others, and as an added bonus, we added a ton of new customers and are becoming more well known in our community.