WSU alumni show support for local businesses online

People can purchase gift cards from more than 20 Pullman stores in one website



The owner of College Hill Custom Threads, in collaboration with another WSU alumnus, made a website to help support other small business owners.


While the lively and bustling community of Pullman has continued to thrive in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many local businesses have faced several hardships. In the past few months, alumni within the Coug community have collaborated with business owners to provide online resources.

WSU alumnus Rex Carlin collaborated with Tony Poston, College Hill Custom Threads owner, to create an online resource where students and alumni can purchase gift cards and in turn, keep the businesses in Pullman afloat.

“We [Carlin and Poston] didn’t really see anyone making an effort to collaborate and support these amazing businesses,” Carlin said. “We wanted to help them out.”

He said the process started out slowly, but as Poston began to reach out to his other colleagues, the pair curated a full-fledged platform.

The website currently hosts over 20 local businesses. The team is still accepting information from those who want to participate, Carlin said.

“Moving to an online format was a way for us to advertise easily and create a one-stop-shop for those who wanted to support,” he said.

As alumni themselves, the duo understands the power and support of the alumni community. They hope to show other business owners the positive impact of the Coug community outside of Pullman, Carlin said.

“We wanted to help these businesses understand there are other ways to make money and keep their businesses going,” he said.

Both Carlin and Poston said they saw the online format as an easy way to market to out-of-town alumni.

It is common for alumni to return during football games or parent weekends, Carlin said. With many of this year’s events canceled, he and Poston wanted to make Pullman businesses more accessible to those who would not be visiting as frequently.

Poston said he has continued to operate his business for customers online. However, COVID-19 has prohibited in-store shopping experiences. He said he received an influx of support from alumni, students and even parents of students.

“There has been a ton of support online because people love Pullman so much,” Poston said. “I think it’s a great way for people to stay connected to the community as well.”

The online format helps to further foster relationships between businesses and the community while keeping everyone safe, he said, because in-person interactions are limited.

“Alumni have always been supportive of the Cougs and the Pullman community,” Poston said. “It’s been great to provide the opportunity for alumni to continue their support despite not being able to visit Pullman as often.”

Both Carlin and Poston said they hope the businesses will continue to reap the benefits of online shopping and continue to use this resource even after the pandemic is under control.

“It’s been such a blessing to be able to support these people,” Poston said. “I think this shift has helped people realize that through online shopping their businesses will be able to survive, and I hope they continue to use this resource.”