Soda Bar

Local Nightclubs Get Creative to Help Struggling Staffers

Casbah, Soda Bar, Brick By Brick, Blonde turning over merch proceeds to employees

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Vito Di Stefano

The statewide closure of music venues has hit really, really hard. Even writing the words feels impossible -- the toll of the coronavirus on the overall economy is beyond comprehension, and people in the music industry are often the most vulnerable to shifts in the economy. Some venues, however, are doing what they can to keep spirits high by continuing to book shows out into the year so we all have something to look forward to when this is all over, and some have stepped up for their employees whose very livelihoods have been suddenly taken away, with no predictions on when we can hope things get back to normal.

On Monday, Tim Mays, owner of the Casbah (full disclosure: I'm the publicist of the venue), Brad Lee, who runs the merchandise business for the club, and I went into action to get the word out about a venue merch sale, with proceeds going to staff to try to offset the sudden loss of tips and wages.

The response was beyond anything the club could have expected. There have been 600-plus separate orders, more than three times what is sold during the annual holiday sale.

“I think we can safely call this a gigantic win,” Lee said by email.

Customers have been flocking to classics items like the Casbah hoodie and also lured by a new exclusive shirt, named after bar manager and part-owner Ben Johnson, which is electric blue and features the classic skull & guitar logo in hot pink. Beyond sales, patrons have reached out via Facebook to make donations, including a sizable donation from a longtime patron.

Other venues have stepped up to do the same. Soda Bar, of which Tim Mays is also part-owner, launched their merch sale on Tuesday. Blonde has posted that they're putting together an online store, Brick By Brick has designed an exclusive Brick By Brick Posse shirt that will never be printed again, and the Whistle Stop Bar is encouraging folks to virtually tip their staff.

Some venues, like the Belly Up and Bar Pink, are also selling gift cards, and in these unprecedented times, every little bit helps.

Check out these links to buy merch:
Soda Bar
Brick By Brick
Music Box
Belly Up
Blonde Bar
Bar Pink
Whistle Stop

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