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Charlotte County tourism bureau sells T-shirts to support local businesses

A Charlotte County tourism bureau is doing what it can to help small businesses and employees impacted by the coronavirus.

The Punta Gorda and Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau are selling ‘Pure Florida’  T-shirts to raise money.

Photo via Pure Florida website.

Proceeds will benefit local businesses like Farlow’s on the Water in Englewood. The restaurant, like all others in Florida, was ordered to close dining-room service on March 20, a day that fell during the peak month of tourism season.

“We laugh. Our dining room is one of our favorite spots, it’s now completely full of to-go boxes,” said Laurie Farlow, who along with her husband Keith, owns the restaurant.

“This time of year, we’re used to seeing 1,200 customers a day. Now, we’re doing 80 to 90 take-out orders a day. It’s just a different world.”

A world the Punta Gorda and Englewood Beach VCB said no small business should face alone.

“In 2019, our tourism tax that was collected in March was over $1 million. I’m estimating we might get lucky to have $150,000,” said Wendie Vestfall, tourism director for the VCB.

So, to help businesses and employees in need, Vestfall designed the T-shirt, which you can check out and buy here.

“Our best side is by your side … it’s kind of like a postcard of love,” she said.

More than 250 has sold so far, with the $5,000 profit going straight to the Charlotte Community Foundation.

“We prioritize what does somebody need today, and that could range from an $85 FPL bill all the way to a $2,000 rental or mortgage assistance,” said Ashley Maher, executive director of the Charlotte Community Foundation.

The support gives hope to businesses like Farlow’s.

“Our community is absolutely incredible. We’ve made it through hurricanes, red tide, the recession,” said Keith Farlow.

The Charlotte Community Foundation said a private donor will match all the funds generated from the T-shirt sales.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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