Orlando T-shirt company raises funds for area shops, restaurants by selling apparel

More than $30,000 raised to support stores’ staff

ORLANDO, Fla. – Even as restaurants and many retail shops are allowed to open up their doors at a limited capacity, many are struggling to survive.

More than a month ago, Mike Cho and his team at Impress Ink, a t-shirt company based in East Orlando, were looking for ways to support local businesses, as well as his own.

“[We’ve seen] maybe 70% less in business,” the co-founder said. “We’re a lot slower than we’re used to be. We’re trying to be creative. We’re a small business trying to help out small businesses.”

His team created “Orlando Merch Store,” a website where people can buy t-shirts for $25, with part of the money going directly to support struggling store and their staff.

"We started with about 30 businesses or restaurants," Cho said. "But within two weeks, we received hundreds of emails with businesses wanting to join. For every single sale, businesses receive $10 directly for staff relief funds and $2 goes to Second Harvest Food Bank."

Sandy Bitman is the owner of Park Ave CDs, one of the businesses benefiting from the project. Since closing walk-in traffic in March, Bitman has seen his business dip 95%.

“Support is support and we’ll take it anywhere we can get it,” Bitman said.

A month into this project, and Cho’s high hopes seem to be coming true.

“We fundraised over $30,000,” Cho said. “That’s more than 2,500 shirts. It shows really the true positive colors of the city.”

To view t-shirts for sale, click here.

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