DES MOINES, Iowa — In 2019, St. Patrick’s Day festivities like the parade in downtown Des Moines along Grand Avenue were all a boom to local business owners like Ted Hawley, who owns Beer Can Alley, The Exchange and HUSH.
Fast forward to St Patrick’s Day 2020, and a crowdless Grand Avenue shows the immediate impact of the concerns COVID-19 created.
“What people don’t realize is that in our business a huge portion of your yearly sales are happening this week,” said Hawley. “It’s a catastrophic loss. We can’t regain what we’ve lost.”
Tuesday’s public health disaster emergency and closure of establishments like some restaurants, all theaters, recreation centers and bars now creates uncertainty. Hawley said, “This is out of our control. This is nobody’s fault.” He’s worried most for his employees. “Even for any kind of unemployment they get, the paychecks in the service industry aren’t very big anyway. They work off tips, cash and you can’t prove that so it’s catastrophic to them.”
To help support those employees now out of work until at least the end of the month, Hawley has teamed up with screen printer and embroiderer Alex Ahrenholtz of Zander Ink in Harlan for a t-shirts fundraiser. “One hundred percent of our profits are going to go directly to our employees just to help them buy milk, buy diapers, do whatever you need to do to survive,” said Hawley.
T-shirts can be purchased for $10 a shirt. It’s an attitude Ahrenholtz hopes more Iowans will move toward. “Help each other out instead of sitting at home and trying to blame somebody. I’m always a positive thinker. Sometimes in things like this, it’s hard to be positive,” said Ahrenholtz.
Both believe bouncing back from this will take businesses helping businesses. “In it together is our theme, with a heart around the front of the t-shirt,” Hawley said.
Determination, and a little luck of the Irish in recouping some of that green. Ahrenholtz said, “If we can hook up together and we can make something happen in a positive way instead of just watching everybody crumble, why not try and do something together and be happy.”
You can help the employees of Beer Can Alley, The Exchange and HUSH by purchasing a t-shirt here.