Two dozen small businesses pledge percentage of sales to help migrant families separated at the border

Some are donating as much as 50 percent to The Florence Project

Sloane Martin
July 10, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Photo courtesy of Bench Pressed

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Concerned over immigration policies and the at least 2,000 children separated from their parents at the southern border as of Tuesday morning, some local businesses are trying to do what they can to assist from thousands of miles away.

It's business as usual today at Bench Pressed, an independent letter press business in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. Owner Jane Vardeman-Shannon (pictured above with her husband Andy) and her five employees are designing, printing and packaging greeting cards for shipment all over the country on antique equipment, dating back as far as 1890.

Vardeman-Shannon is donating 50 percent of her sales to an Arizona nonprofit providing legal and social services for immigrant families.

"Honestly, I wish that we could give more," she said. "I want to put my money where my mouth is. I also want to make payroll so I can only do 50 percent. I think it's important and I want to be a part of this."

She's one of around two dozen local small businesses donating up to half of their profits today to benefit The Florence Project, a nonprofit which provides legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona, including those impacted by the family separation issue. Anne Andrus, the owner of Honey and Rye Bakehouse in St. Louis Park,  is also participating by donating 50 percent of sales. Both are part of 'Restaurants Rising,' a campaign organized by The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners.

"For us, it's an easy way to say we stand behind our values, we stand behind the cause and our commitment to community," she said. "Even thought they're far away from us, they're still a part of our broader community."

Both owners say customers have responded well.

"Early on we were wondering if this would hurt our business," Vardeman-Shannon said. "My husband and I talked about it and we said that we don't care if it would hurt our business because we want to stand on the right side of history and we want to be involved in any way that we can to make the world better for all of us."

"It's a shared value with my team," Andrus said. "It gives them a way to be able to say we're doing what we can, showing the effort. And to our community here in town, just to our customers and new customers as of today. We've had a lot of people stop in just for this."

The businesses involved include bakeries, pizzerias, restaurants, a boutique store and a bookstore.

Jacquelynn Goessling, a customer at Honey and Rye, today says she'll come back again because of it.

"I think that it's great they're participating," she said. "I didn't know they were doing it and I was intending to go somewhere today for one of my meals for it, so when I saw it on the door I was really happy. I think I'll come here more often because of it."

On social media, The Florence Project posted that it's "grateful" for the support from the Twin Cities.