Aric Hay (pictured left) and Bob St. Mane (pictured right in baseball cap) are partners in an entrepreneurial effort. They recently donated 500 “Southside Strong” T-shirts to business owners whose properties were damaged or destroyed by unrest along Lake Street. The T-shirts are now for sale online through St. Mane Sporting Goods. (Photo by Margie O'Loughlin)[/caption]
Bob St. Mane is the second generation owner of St. Mane Sporting Goods in South Minneapolis, a store that generally does a brisk business outfitting youth sports teams throughout the year. When COVID-19 wiped out organized youth sports at least until this fall, St. Mane knew he was in trouble. It was time to start thinking outside the box.
St. Mane came up with the idea of making and selling unity T-shirts during the pandemic. The T-shirts said simply, “Minnesota Strong, Pandemic 2020.” He donated $5 from every sale to other struggling businesses; ones that, like him, hadn't been able to get federally funded assistance because the government ran out of money.
Not only did St. Mane generate income for his own small business during the shutdown, he was able to make a significant donation to four others.
And now, he is doing it all over again.
In partnership with his next door business neighbor, Aric Hay of Print and Stitch, St. Mane is making and selling T-shirts in support of businesses lost or damaged during the recent unrest on Lake Street.
On June 9, 2020, St. Mane and Hay brought eight boxes of T-shirts to the parking lot at Roosevelt High School. They met up with dozens of community volunteers at 10 a.m., who divided into six walking teams. Each team was instructed to take a stretch of Lake Street. They went off in search of owners of damaged or looted businesses, and were tasked with giving each one a T-shirt that said “Southside Strong.”
There was to be no money collected on Lake Street that day – the 500 printed T-shirts were donated by Bob St. Mane and Aric Hay. It was just a day to show support for business owners and volunteers. Moving forward, community members can purchase T-shirts directly from St. Manes’ website at www.stmanes.com. The cost is $20, and $5 of that will be donated to the Lake Street Council’s general fund to help small businesses rebuild.
When St. Mane spoke to the crowd of volunteers at Roosevelt High School, he said, “First and foremost, we’re here to support the devastated businesses on Lake Street. We don’t want any of the stores to close permanently. We’re a small business struggling with our own problems this year, and we want to stay in business too. We get it.”
At 58 years old, St. Manes is the longest running sporting goods store in Minnesota. For more information about ordering T-shirts, call Bob St. Mane at 612-722-1447 or order online. The family-owned and operated business is located at 4159 28th Avenue South.