Owner gives back to local businesses

Website allows people to purchase gift cards, masks; raised $6,000 for restaurants

About+26+people+donated+money+to+the+Community+Action+Center+through+the+fundraiser+put+on+by+College+Hill+Custom+Threads.

COURTESY OF TONY POSTON

About 26 people donated money to the Community Action Center through the fundraiser put on by College Hill Custom Threads.

ANNIE HAGER, Evergreen reporter

It started as a website.

Tony Poston, owner of College Hill Custom Threads, said he created a fundraiser to support local businesses during COVID-19, which has raised about $6,000 so far.

College Hill Custom Threads is a brand and merchandise studio in Pullman known for making apparel for student groups and businesses, he said.

Poston and a friend began a website where they compiled URLs of different businesses in Pullman to sell gift cards online for restaurants and shops, Poston said. Sales from the store’s Pullman-themed masks also go toward the fundraiser.

College Hill Custom Threads is re-launching the mask and gift card bundle campaign this week, Poston said.

“When COVID hit, a lot of restaurants were closed down, and a lot of small businesses were suffering,” Poston said. “Students went home after spring break and we saw a big drop in Pullman with the student population.”

Poston continues his involvement with the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, he said, which resulted in an idea to start a fundraiser to help local businesses.

“A lot of people have been asking about Pullman-themed masks, we designed a couple of them and thought it would be fun to bundle them up with some local restaurant gift cards,” Poston said.

Jim Harbour, owner of Porch Light Pizza and co-owner of South Fork, said his restaurants both received funds from the gift card fundraiser.

When COVID-19 hit, both restaurants immediately shut down for two days before they were able to pivot and created a 100 percent ordering online process, Harbour said.

College Hill Custom Threads can sell all over the country. Poston said gift cards were a ‘no brainer.’ People were buying and wanted masks that reminded them of WSU.

“These businesses are struggling like we’ve never seen before and we have had a few businesses shut down in Pullman,” Poston said. “We don’t want to see anymore.”

People can donate their gift cards to the Pullman Serves it Forward program, which provides nutritious meals to families in need, he said.

“We actually had 26 people who chose to do that, so we just wrote a check for $520 to the Community Action Center,” Poston said.

For every person that purchased this bundle, College Hill Custom Thread’s staff sent handwritten thank you cards with each order, he said.

Some people would buy four or five gift cards because they don’t expire, and they knew they could use them when they could travel back to Pullman safely, Poston said.

“It’s a triple win,” Harbour said. “Tony sells some masks and makes a tiny bit of money, we sell gift cards and make some money, and the guests and consumers get to feel good supporting two town businesses.”

The community is trying, he said, and they need every bit of it.

“I’m just really proud of all the alumni and the people that are fans of Pullman, too,” he said.