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Left Coast T-Shirt Company launches campaign to help local businesses 

click to enlarge PAY IT FORWARD John Carter (left) prints a fundraising T-shirt for The Libertine as Left Coast T-Shirt company owner David Whitaker watches—part of the Here for Good campaign to help local small businesses and organizations hurt by the pandemic.

Photo By Jayson Mellom

PAY IT FORWARD John Carter (left) prints a fundraising T-shirt for The Libertine as Left Coast T-Shirt company owner David Whitaker watches—part of the Here for Good campaign to help local small businesses and organizations hurt by the pandemic.

It's a great idea, and Left Coast T-Shirt Company owner David Whitaker wishes he could take credit for it. But he got the idea from "other screen printing companies from across the country" who have mounted campaigns similar to Whitaker's Here For Good, which aims to print T-shirts featuring logos from local businesses and organization such as Boo Boo Records, Puffers of Pismo, SLO Blues Baseball, Downtown SLO's Farmers' Market, SLO Repertory Theatre, and dozens more.

The T-shirts, which can be ordered online on hereforgoodslo.com, sell for $25 and feature quippy phrases. Krobar's tee says, "Ain't Nothing a Whiskey Can't Fix," and The Family Care Network's tee says, "Be the difference."

"So far the response has been positive," Whitaker said. "People love the idea."

Left Coast's goal is to raise $50,000. As of Monday, June 1, they'd already reached $10,000, with the campaign continuing through June 30.

"Initially we reached out to about 20 companies, and all but one said yes," Whitaker explained. "It felt really good to have that many come on board. Then KSBY did a story, and since then we've had people contacting us. Five more added pretty quickly, and we should have some more coming on this week."

As of June 1, the site shows 30 participating companies, and the program costs the companies absolutely nothing. For every $25 T-shirt Left Coast sells with a company's logo, the company receives $12.50. Left Coast pays for the T-shirts, the printing materials, the graphic design, maintaining the website, taking and processing orders, and shipping.

"It's not going to be super lucrative for us," Whitaker admitted. "In fact, the amount we're making will basically cover our costs, but we did it this way because we wanted to help the community. My business was deeply affected by [the shelter-in-place] closure. We actually saw this happening a little before everyone else by maybe a week or two as we saw order after order being canceled. We print for schools, churches, Cal Poly, tourism—so all these events we had orders for were canceled.

"By the time March 19 came, we'd already lost tens of thousands of dollars of business. I had to let some people go," Whitaker explained.

Being the savvy businessman he is, he immediately filed for government programs and was able to bring some of his employees back quickly, even though he didn't have any actual work for them. Then Here For Good was launched.

"We thought if we could help our community and help some of our longtime customers, in the long run they'd become loyal lifelong customers," Whitaker said. "Some of the businesses in the campaign are ones we've never worked with before, so it's a benefit to us if after the campaign they come to us again."

click to enlarge SUPPORT LOCAL Puffer's of Pismo (owner Charlie Puffer is pictured) is one of dozens of SLO County businesses participating in Left Coast T-Shirt's Here for Good campaign. - FILE PHOTO BY HAYLEY CAIN
  • File Photo By Hayley Cain
  • SUPPORT LOCAL Puffer's of Pismo (owner Charlie Puffer is pictured) is one of dozens of SLO County businesses participating in Left Coast T-Shirt's Here for Good campaign.

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Here for Good website, the very last design features the campaign's logo and the historic Fremont Theater's marque with "San Luis Obispo, Ca," on the bottom. There are men's and women's tees, and a women's racerback tank, as well as a five-pack of screen-printed face masks available. These are the only designs Left Coast will actually make money on, so while you're buying a Kraken Coffee tee or a Spark Yoga tee, think about getting a Here for Good tee, too!

"We were so happy to be approached by Left Coast about the Here for Good campaign," Bettina Swigger, chief executive officer of Downtown SLO, said. "We are participating as Downtown SLO and as the Farmers' Market. We're also working on plans to bring back Farmers' Market in a safe and modified manner, but for now, we encourage people to wear a T-shirt on Thursday night!"

Kevin Dale Harris, managing artistic director of the SLO Repertory Theatre concurred: "The board and staff of SLO Rep are thrilled to participate in the Here for Good campaign, generously organized by Left Coast. It's inspiring that this local company has taken the initiative and stepped up to the plate to create an easy, meaningful way to support the local SLO businesses that are suffering during the pandemic. It makes me feel a little better just to scroll through all of the options on their website and dream about a time—hopefully soon—when all of these wonderful shops are back at 100 percent."

In the meantime, buy a few tees and show your support for SLOcal businesses and look sharp doing it! And after you buy a tee, you can help even more by sharing the Here for Good webpage and a photo of you in your tee on social media.

Whitaker says they're continuing to add other local businesses, so contact Left Coast at (805) 547-1622 if you're a business that wants to participate. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey is looking sharp at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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