BERLIN — Keeping people working and recognizing those on the front lines have been consistent themes with the growing pandemic and one local screen-printing company has come up with a way to do both.
As the COVID-19 virus crisis continue to grow with no immediate end in sight, more and more local businesses have been forced to close or at least greatly scale back operations. Meanwhile, others are considered essential, and while they remain open for business, the trickle down from the closure of other businesses has caused a scaling back of operations and temporarily laying off employees.
Such is the case for local screen-printing business Red Sun Apparel, which is a major supplier to the resort area’s restaurant, bar and hotel industry. Like many other businesses, Red Sun is scrambling for creative ideas to keep people employed, generating at least some revenue and, perhaps most importantly, finding a way to help others in the community and recognize those who are keeping the community going during the crisis.
“We’re about 70% tourism, restaurant and hotel-based with uniforms and T-shirts and things like that and most of our customers are currently closed,” said Red Sun owner Bill Regan this week. “I’m optimistic that we’ll all be back at it here in a month or so.”
Like most of his client and customer base, Regan has had to take steps to keep the business up and running during the crisis and keep people working, but it has been challenging.
“It’s hit us pretty hard as well at Red Sun,” he said. “I had to lay off some people last week and it’s been very, very difficult. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights thinking about how maybe we can bring some people back to work.”
To that end, Regan this week came up with an idea to keep people working and recognize those in the community who are out on the front lines each day during the crisis, from doctors and nurses to first responders and store employees.
Red Sun has gathered much of its blank T-shirt inventory and has begun printing them with an attractive American flag design and a simple message- America Stronger Together. Within the stripes of the flag design are the names of front-line workers who are making a difference day in and day out.
“I got an idea,” he said. “We searched the warehouse and gathered all of the extra shirts we have here and we’re going to donate them to the people out there on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus.”
Regan estimated he has around 3,000 to 4,000 T-shirts on hand that he and his crew are printing with the America Stronger Together design and the plan is to distribute them to front line workers. When the supply of those shirts is exhausted, Regan hopes to reach out to the community to purchase and print more for wider distribution.
“’America Stronger Together’ really says it all,” he said. “We want to recognize the doctors, the nurses, fire and police, grocery store clerks and all of the people that are out there working in essential industries. We’re printing them right now to show folks how much we appreciate what they’re doing.”
To that end, Red Sun has established a website through which those interested in helping can purchase a shirt for $16. With the $16 purchase, the buyer will get a America Stronger Together shirt to give out on their own, while Red Sun will make another donation to a deserving front-liner. The website can be found at americatogether.itemorder.com.
“We’ll send you a shirt to maybe give to a friend and at the same time, we’ll give a shirt to somebody working in an essential industry as well,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep some people employed and also recognize those out on the front lines. We’ll all get through this together.”