- Gumaro Escarcega
To help Oceanside stay strong, we started a community fundraising campaign and microgrant program for local businesses that were nationally recognized by Main Street America.
To help Oceanside small businesses stay strong this spring until they could reopen their physical doors, MainStreet Oceanside launched the Oceanside Strong campaign and established the Keep It Local Oceanside Microgrant Program in May.
With the goal of uniting the Oceanside community in a visible show of support for local businesses impacted by California’s stay-at-home order, MainStreet Oceanside partnered with Downtown Oceanside screen-printer and retailer Whitlock Ink to create Oceanside Strong merchandise.
“We wanted to stay busy and to be an essential business to continue to support our local economy,” said Cory Whitlock, owner of Whitlock Ink and Whitlock Surf Experience.
During the monthlong campaign, MainStreet asked locals and business donors to make direct donations to the Oceanside Strong Fund or to make apparel purchases to fund the Keep It Local Oceanside Microgrant Program.
Both drawing on and encouraging the Oceanside community’s passionate support of its local businesses and sense of pride, the campaign rewarded donations of $25 or more on the campaign website with a free Oceanside Strong face mask.
Whitlock Ink also designed and printed Oceanside Strong tees, available through Oceansidestrong.com. Profits of the merchandise produced and sold by Whitlock are shared with MainStreet Oceanside and continue to generate revenue to support local businesses.
In all, 100+ donors stood strong with local businesses, contributing $10,500 to the campaign and donating approximately half that total in the first weekend.
With these funds, the Keep It Local Oceanside Microgrant Program awarded microgrants ranging from $375 to $1,000 to 13 Oceanside brick-and-mortar small businesses to help meet their short-term financial needs.
“These funds mean so much in weathering the ‘storm,’” said John McCoy, president of the Oceanside Theatre Company Board of Directors. “We are truly grateful.”
To share local COVID-19 stories and personify the campaign, MainStreet Oceanside collaborated with Bliss Tea & Treats owner Rushell Gordon and her brother, Alfonso Gordon, a restaurant efficiency consultant, on an “Oceanside Strong” YouTube series. Al Gordon interviewed a different business owner in each episode of the series, and the Gordons’ good friend and colleague Los Angeles videographer Richard Pluim filmed and edited the series pro bono. The Oceanside Strong video series is posted on the Let’s Get It YouTube Channel, accessible at Oceansidestrong.com.
MainStreet Oceanside leveraged the Oceanside Strong campaign and simultaneously promoted Downtown Oceanside restaurants and retailers through social media and dedicated website pages for our restaurants and retailers, Oceansidetogo.com and Shoplocaloceanside.com.
“Thank you so much for the support these past few months, said Regie Brown, co-owner of Flourish + Live Well. “Sally [Stirnkorb] and I are truly grateful to be part of this community.”
The Oceanside Strong campaign kept the Oceanside community, which demonstrated resiliency in supporting our businesses, united and strong during these unprecedented times. MainStreet Oceanside would like to thank all of our donors who supported small businesses struggling from the pandemic.