CHICAGO — In addition to donating to online fundraisers and ordering delivery and takeout, now you can also help some of your favorite Chicago spots stay open by buying “super soft swag” — thanks to Barrel Maker Printing.
The screen printing company, which for many years was based in Avondale but has since moved to suburban Buffalo Grove, has partnered with a bunch of Chicago favorites, including the Empty Bottle, Kuma’s Corner and Bric-a-Brac, on T-shirts and tote bags that are now available for pre-order.
Half of the profits — $10 from each $20 T-shirt sold — will go directly to the businesses. The other half will go to Barrel Maker.
As of Tuesday morning, Barrel Maker had raised $16,840 toward its $25,000 goal.
Tre’ Jorgensen, creative director for the restaurant and club group 16″ on Center, called the partnership “amazing.”
“We wouldn’t really have the manpower to sell and package and ship this stuff. It takes the stress off this process for us,” Jorgensen said.
Justin Moore, Barrel Maker’s co-founder, said it’s a mutually beneficial project. His screen printing company, like countless businesses across the country, has taken a major hit during the crisis.
By partnering with Chicago restaurants and shops, Moore is trying to keep his business afloat while also helping beloved small businesses weather the storm, he said.
Moore also noted that Barrel Maker is doing more than just selling merch. It’s also creating web stores for small businesses that include links to buy gift cards. Barrel Maker is splitting the merch profit, but not the gift card money; that money goes directly to the small businesses.
“The really cool thing is there’s no upfront costs. There’s really no risk. We can go to a company right now and say if you have a design that you want to have on a shirt, we’ll put that on a shirt. All you have to do is share it with your following,” Moore said.
All of the T-shirts and tote bags are on pre-order and will be printed and shipped out as soon as Barrel Maker “can do so safely,” when the governor’s stay at home order is lifted.
Moore is monitoring the progress of the project from home, while he works out of his garage.
“We’re all pulling together as a community to help each other out,” he said.
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