Updated: May 27, 2020 06:35 PM
Created: May 27, 2020 03:51 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There are times in life when you just know what you need to do. For Brady Fogle, that time came in March as he watched local businesses close their doors because of the coronavirus.
"It was really just an open-ended whoever wants to be a part of it, we are more than happy to have you jump on board. We didn't really know what to expect," Fogle said.
Fogle owns Black Bird Design, a Rochester-based screen printing, embroidery and commercial printing company. When the coronavirus spread to Western New York, he came up with a plan to help his fellow small business owners.
"We've been looking for something to do to help give back to the community and this was like a perfect opportunity," he said. "So we sat down and figured out most of the logistics and this is something that just hit close to home for us too because we're a small business."
Fogle and his wife decided to print and sell t-shirts to support the affected businesses. The t-shirts read "Stayed In And Supported Local" and included the name and logo of those local shops and restaurants that wanted to take part.
Thirty-two local companies signed on.
"It definitely took off much quicker and was much more widespread than we had originally planned for sure. So in our eyes, it was a huge success," Fogle said.
It took three days to set up the screens and print the t-shirts and another two days to process and ship them. The Fogles raised $13,500, sending the money directly to the businesses — minus the cost of the shirts and shipping.
"The businesses that were involved were super grateful. As I said before, there was no cost to them and when the sale closed, we literally wrote checks out to each of the businesses and sent them out in the mail the next day," Fogle said.
Now, as part of phase one, Black Bird Design has re-opened and brought its workforce back. They've adapted, adding face masks to their product line.
"Every step of it has been a challenge, but we're doing it. We've successfully filled a handful of orders and we've got some more in the pipeline, and we're just doing what's required of us right now," Fogle added.
While sales aren't yet where they were when the pandemic started and the future is uncertain, Fogle is keeping a positive outlook about his business — and the others he helped.
"I personally hope that people are going to bounce back from this," Fogle said. "I find that people are adaptive by nature, so I'm hoping these businesses, even though they're taking a big hit, maybe they're able to figure out a way to make their business work in this climate and get them through this hard time."
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