Before the onset of the coronavirus, Cassie Beach, a Richmond realtor, created a Facebook group to get locals more involved in supporting the city's businesses — specifically restaurants.
“It seemed to be that a lot of people were saying there were not enough restaurants, and that they were driving to Lexington, so really it was to get people to look at the mom and pop stores,” Beach said.
The idea quickly took off.
The Madison County Foodies Facebook group now has 9,700 people following and liking the page.
As coronavirus took hold of the nation and county, she said the page became even more impactful, as local, small businesses struggled with closures and restrictions.
“Everyone has started posting pictures of food they have picked up and were excited, and a lot of people began to find out about restaurants they didn’t know were here,” she told The Register.
Now, the page is using its popularity for an even bigger cause — giving back to the community.
After partnering with Surge! Printing company, the foodie group is selling T-shirts, with revenues being donated to God’s Outreach Food Bank in Madison County.
The idea spawned after someone in the group briefly mentioned the idea, and Beach ran with it.
“I thought it was a great idea because people would be wearing the T-shirts, which would bring them to the page and to more restaurants,” she said. “... I just thought let’s give it all to a local charity that needs help, and we just picked God’s Outreach to give the proceeds.”
Other local business owners have even reached out to help Beach sell the group’s product.
Rick Johnson, co-owner of Chuck Wagon food truck, was eager to pay it forward.
“The foodies group has been the best thing to happen to our business,” he said. “We have gotten a lot more exposure than we were getting before, and we wanted to help out. If we can help out the community, that is what it is all about.”
Ron Flickinger, the owner of Colonel Delivery, also came on board to help out. Flickinger has been delivering orders to individuals’ homes who perhaps did not want to leave home during the pandemic.
With local businesses helping each other, Beach said, the joint effort is something that will benefit the community.
“I think it is nice to be able to help the little guys, and of course the more that we help the local guys, the better it is for the local economy,” she said.
Beach said she has already sold many of the shirts from the initial run and hopes to have more made to keep spreading the word — and raising more funds for the food bank.
Shirts are $15 a each and are available in sizes small through 2XL. To order, send a message through the Madison County Foodies group Facebook page. Shirts can also be picked up at Beach’s RE/MAX Elite Reality office at 116 Meridian Way, Suite 4, Richmond.
The Chuck Wagon will be at Dreaming Creek Brewery throughout the weekend until Tuesday selling their fare and shirts from 5 to 9 p.m.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.