• T. DePauw

The Money for Nothing Campaign

Since the first word of shop closures and shelter-in-place orders, I started sending a few bucks to shops here and there via PayPal just to say “Hey. I don’t need anything, but here’s money for a bottle you don’t have to send me”. I didn't need a bottle. Or a t-shirt. Or a bike part. And I didn't want anyone to take time to ship me something if they were busy.

Then I thought to myself... there has to be other people in the same boat.

The idea to create a campaign hit me in the middle of a run last week. The concept of “Money for Nothing” was so exciting and I felt such an urgency that I created the image, created a Stewardship Retail account on Instagram and wrote the post while still dripping sweat and stinking up the place.

Money for Nothing is a simple idea in two parts: 1) People should consider sending money to their favorite shops and ask nothing in return, and 2) Shops should make it easy for them to do that. I tagged a pile of shops and suggested they share their PayPal address on their website or their social media. If they responded to me directly, I posted their PayPal address in my Instagram stories, but it’s hard to make an impact on social media if you don’t have any followers. I just hoped shops would hear the request and make it easy for fans to donate if they wanted to.

To make it easier for folks to support the shops who replied to the original post, I created a spreadsheet with their PayPals and websites. It's a tiny list, and there's no way I can list every shop myself, so feel free to comment on the doc with the pertinent details and I'll add the shop. Click here to check it out.

In the original Money for Nothing post, I also put the call out to bike folks to support their local bike shops this way. A number of people shared the post or echoed the Instagram story, so I hope that put a few coins in the coffers of retailers. No way for me to know, but I can hope!

Another method I floated out there was for shops to add a “Support” button on their web stores since many shops were directing their followers to order things online during this weird time. I don’t know how many shops did that, but I did see a couple shops/friends/friendshops do it and see some beautiful generosity from their fans. My friends at Freeport Bicycles in NW Illinois have essentially closed their doors completely for the safety of their staff and customers, but they were able to give their employees a little compensation this week because of PayPal donations.

It was interesting to see a few retailers squirm/balk at the idea of taking money for nothing. I like that - it’s a sign of integrity - but I think they should get over it. Hear me out. Bike shops (good ones, that is) provide a litany of services that they never get paid for. The best bike shops bring people together, they serve as “third places” for people to gather (rather, they did… and they will again), and they make a million tiny adjustments for free. On one hand, these are all things that modern retail requires, but on the other hand, you don’t get that kind of service from the vacuum store. So, shops… it’s not charity. It’s payback. Or it’s pre-paying for future benefits. If someone wants to support your business in this uncertain time… LET THEM! Your customers want to invest in your survival and your success.

This idea can be applied to many industries that are struggling right now, but this is the industry I know and it's a good place to start. If you're reading this and you're in the restaurant industry or you're a maker or you sell anything (even you, vacuum stores), please run with this idea if it's not already in motion in your industry.

Thanks for reading. Now, let's take care of businesses.

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