Competitors unite to back community
Clothing, particularly T-shirts, has become a popular billboard to advertise businesses, organizations, events, political views and personal philosophies. Starting today, shirts will be available to promote unity and teamwork in Fairmont.
In the middle of July, Deb Foster visited four Fairmont brick-and-mortar retail businesses that sell customized T-shirts. She went as a private citizen, not the city’s mayor, and asked the four business owners their opinions on a T-shirt promoting harmony and cohesiveness in the community, and she received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“Absolutely,” said Sara Cyphers, owner of D & S Trophies.
“Great,” said Betsy Tino, owner of Minuteman Press.
“In a small community, if we don’t work together, we’re not going to survive,” said Kim White, owner of Fairmont Awards.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Jay Doyscher, owner of Virtual Identity Vault.
The quartet of business competitors joined forces to work out the design, color and pricing for the shirts, which were unveiled at the City Council meeting Monday. The blue shirts, a 50-50 blend of polyester and cotton, bear a sports-like logo of “Team Fairmont” on the front and “Working Together” and the chain of lakes on the back. All sizes are available. The cost is $4 for sizes up to XL and $8 for sizes 2XL or larger.
The shirts are available at the four stores and at the Martin County Fair booths of Fairmont Awards in the Bank Midwest building and Visual Identity Vault in the arena.
Doyscher said the recent divisiveness and controversy on the City Council involving the city’s leadership “has fractured our community.”
“We (businesses) are all competitors, but in this particular case, this is something we all need to do for our community to try and start the healing process,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing, and we all agreed to that very quickly. If we can play a small role in bringing people together when we are four competitors, that’s a good thing.”
“I feel like there’s so much hate and blame and pointing fingers, not only with this council situation, but society in general,” said Cyphers, who designed the shirts. “Not everybody has to agree on everything. That’s what makes the world great. There’s so many different options and opinions and thought processes, but that doesn’t mean that you get to say mean and hurtful things. Take the time to listen.”
“There’s four of us. In this small community, if we don’t work together, we are not going to survive,” White said. “Working together, it just makes us stronger as businesses.”
“I love the teamwork. That’s what I’m trying to build with the other things I’m involved in. We moved back to Fairmont with that in mind,” said Tino, who with her husband, Dustin, returned to their hometown in late 2017 to open Minuteman Press in the mall. “It’s building each other up, not knocking each other down. If you have a different opinion than me, I respect that.”
The four business owners admit they will not be making any profit on the shirts but will accept any donations to help offset incidental expenses to keep the project going.
“When you are in business, you are there to get the dollar, but in this particular instance, the dollar is not what’s important,” Doyscher said. “It’s about bringing everybody back together and working together for the common goal, which is to improve Fairmont. When we have a healthy Fairmont, we have a healthy Martin County and surrounding area.”
“To make this community go, we all have to work together,” White said.
“If four competitors can work together, it’s a good example,” Cyphers said.
“And this is not the city’s project. It is our project,” Tino said.
Foster downplayed her role in the project.
“I just planted a seed, and four business owners made the project a reality,” she said. “In the business world, these businesses are competitors. In the Fairmont community, they are community members setting an example of what can happen when we work together.
“I am so excited to follow the Facebook page and see all the Team Fairmont T-shirts and bracelets pictures that are posted. I look forward to watching the community support each of these four businesses that are leading by example. A huge thank you to each of them.”
In addition to the T-shirt campaign, wristbands also will be available soon.
The four store owners have set up a Facebook page, Team Fairmont. They request residents post photos of themselves wearing their Team Fairmont shirts at out-of-town destinations and tag @TeamFairmont for the photo to appear on the Facebook page.