TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT)– A popular Tuscaloosa apparel company in Tuscaloosa known for its Greek life accessories, company logo T-shirts, and business apparel have taken the initiative to help small businesses during the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.
JNJ Apparel founders Michael and Nick Wright recently created a fundraising campaign called “Shop Local” to support family-owned businesses in the city. The initiative is similar to Yellowhammer Creative’s “Locals” series, which had T-shirts representing different businesses in the Birmingham area.
Before the pandemic, the brothers’ original plan was to sell game day shirts on a new platform. However, once tough times hit the country, the company’s plans changed. The Wrights quickly transformed the platform to create a charitable campaign to support the small businesses all over the city. Shirts were designed bearing the names and logos of the businesses then sold on this new platform with percentages of the profits going back to local restaurants, retailers, bars and more.
“We kind of launched it prematurely,” Michael Wright explained. “We had some kinks and everything in it but wound up just having an incredible amount of support from not just Tuscaloosa but from all over the nation. We were shipping out t-shirts from California, New Jersey, people that went to school here that wanted to support those local businesses. We made a deal with the local businesses like we’ll charge whatever amount and we will cut you back a percentage of it.”
The Wrights said they were willing to go out of their way to make sure small businesses like Chuck’s Fish, InnisFree, Mark’s Meat and more could stay afloat through the tough times of 2020.
“It is scary,” Michael said. “There’s limitations on people being able to be in there but I feel like there’s been an incredible amount of support from all the retail stores to restaurants and bars and everything trying to stay as safe as possible but realizing that these are family owned companies. This is people’s livelihood. A lot of these businesses that are here are not like a chain of restaurants that are everywhere, it’s your one and onlys that are here.”
Although the Wrights’ only expectations were to shine light on small businesses suffering due to the pandemic, JNJ was honored with a few Small Business Awards of Alabama that were presented by the Business Council of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.
“It’s not just me and Michael doing this, it’s our whole team, our production to designers and everybody all together,” Nick Wright said.
In the 11 to 50-employee category, JNJ Apparel was presented with a Silver Award because of their passion for the community of Tuscaloosa. Beyond that, some of their T-shirt designs were recognized and awarded from the “Shop Local” campaign.
“It was something that was very cool to share with our employees especially during this time and kind of give them a little bit of a boost and it’s just flattering that people would think that highly of us,” Michael explained.
You can purchase a number of shirts promoting local businesses here.
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