Jobey Manahan, an account manager at Pop’s Printed Apparel, folds Local Love T-shirts on March 23. Credit: Ashley Kimmel | Assistant Arts & Life Editor

A local apparel brand has businesses around campus feeling the love this week, and like-minded supporters can now wear their hearts on their sleeves. 

Mid High Market released a new Local Love T-shirt design Wednesday to raise money for employees of local businesses affected by the temporary closing of bars and restaurants implemented March 15 by Gov. Mike DeWine due to COVID-19. The design features the words “local love” inside the Ohio state outline, along with the names of the businesses being helped out.

All proceeds will be split among 23 local bars and restaurants, including Buckeye Donuts, Fours On High, Out-R-Inn, Formaggio and Ledo’s Tavern, according to Mid High Market’s website. 

Since the design’s release, about 1,300 shirts have been sold, totaling about $20,000 after production costs are deducted, Austin Pence, owner of Mid High Market and co-founder of screen printing shop Pop’s Printed Apparel, said.

Pence said he plans on selling the shirts for as long as possible. 

“We’re just gonna keep it going because the more shirts we sell, the more money we can raise for the employees of those businesses,” Pence said. 

He said local businesses such as the restaurants and bars supported by the shirts’ proceeds were an integral part of keeping Pop’s Printed Apparel afloat, and he wants to do his part to support those businesses and their employees now. 

“Our business is almost entirely based off of other local businesses at Pop’s Printed Apparel,” Pence said. “Our clients are the other small businesses. They’re the bars, they’re the restaurants, they’re the small local clothing brands that are keeping our presses running. So the quicker we can get through this, the better.”

The idea for the Local Love T-shirt was proposed by Scott Ellsworth, owner of Threes Above High and Fours On High and a regular client of Pop’s Printed Apparel. 

Ellsworth said he originally got the idea after starting a GoFundMe for his staff of 30 and reached out to Pence to design a shirt for them. The idea to include more local businesses came about when Ellsworth said he thought about how many people would likely be out of work as a result of restaurant and bar closings. 

Pence said he and Ellsworth are still trying to decipher the best way to divide the proceeds up among the businesses. He said he does not know yet if each business will receive the same amount or if the number of staff members will be taken into consideration.

“When these kids come back to class and to work, they’re gonna see so many people with these shirts on and they’re gonna know that somebody thought enough about them to buy a T-shirt for them,” Ellsworth said.

Pence said he was shipping the first batch of orders Monday night.

Local Love T-shirts cost $25 and can be purchased on Mid High Market’s website