ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The “Support small businesses of Abilene” Facebook group was initially started during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. Group founders Cal Mishay and Jennifer Sumangil wanted a way for local businesses to connect with the community without fear of spreading the virus.
Within the first couple weeks they had amassed more than 1,000 followers, a feat Mishay attributes to the uncertainty and isolation of the times.
“It gave them a focus in a time when everything was so uncertain,” says Mishay.
In that first month, group organizers held a fundraiser to benefit some of the businesses affected by the pandemic. Partnered with Bucketheads Screenprinting, they were able to raise more than $14,000 for small business relief.
“This was our turn to give back to our small business in a big way,” said Sumangil.
Far exceeding its original purpose as a COVID-19 necessity, the group has grown to more than 10,000 members comprised of Big Country businesses and residents.
Businesses can promote their products, services, and events, while residents or those visiting can learn more about the businesses in their area and help keep the local economy flowing.
“The objective that they created was met, and now it’s become a self-sustaining, people-ran, business-ran entity,” says group administrator Cameron Wiley.
Though they wish to keep the group true to it’s original purpose of connection and community, a second fundraiser has been planned.
Bucketheads is accepting preorders for “I love it here” and “Big love in a Small Town” Abilene branded t-shirts and stickers until April 8. Proceeds collected will be used to bolster small businesses in the Big Country.