Small businesses, most of which rely on foot traffic and in-store purchases to thrive, are being hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While they can’t open their doors right now, three R/GA staffers came up with a creative plan to help local shops make some money right now.
Enter: Merch Aid, a non-profit initiative that connects artists and designers with small brick-and-mortar stores that have been forced to close due to coronavirus.
R/GA Senior Copywriter Chloe Saintlan and Associate Creative Directors Zack Roif and Matt Woodward came up with the idea when they realized that locals want to support unexpectedly shuttered businesses in some way, such as buying merchandise or gift cards. The problem, however, is that these small businesses don’t have the resources to create designs and illustrations.
Merch Aid invites established and upcoming designers and artists to create illustrations for local stores, which are then placed on items like tote bags and mugs and sold on the non-profit’s website. All proceeds from any sold merchandise go directly to the small businesses.
Each day, Merch Aid platform will feature new collaborations between businesses and artists or designers. Some of the first collabs in New York include Debbie Millman and Astoria Booksellers; Hamish Smyth and Harlem Doggie Day Spa and Ilya Milstein and New Kam Hing in Chinatown.
The platform also plans to open up to the entire design community in order to help support small businesses around the nation.