Chef Christian’s tips on creating profit with merch during COVID-19

Christian Hayes is passionate about food. After starting a successful catering company with his wife, Christine, the couple decided to open their restaurant, The Garrison. Located in Yarmouth, Maine and surrounded by the rushing Royal River, their restaurant serves ‘thoughtful food’ and prides itself on having a brilliant and kind team. 

Generate pure profit

Business was booming until COVID-19 spread across the world. Like many small businesses, social distancing and lock downs have hit The Garrison hard and forced Christian and Christine to make some very difficult decisions. 

“It’s been awful. Restaurants, hospitality, and catering are all centered around the pretty basic concept of humans congregating. When a pandemic’s direct response is for people not to gather for an unforeseen amount of time – that decimates our industry. We already function on the slimmest of margins. One week off, and you start to feel the pressure. Having to lay off our invested staff who have built these companies beside us was heartbreaking.”

Despite the hardships Christian and his family continue pushing forward. He’s committed to finding new ways to generate income until this passes and life returns to normal—including creating branded merchandise.  

“Business is about playing offense and defense, and adapting. You got to pivot. Teespring allowed us to add a revenue stream of pure profit, with no expenses. That’s invaluable in times like these.”

Create appealing designs

Christian was able to create a new merch collection, a custom store, and started getting sales within a week of signing up to Teespring. His designs are inspired by his love of rock & roll and motorcycle culture, and similar to his restaurant the aesthetic uniquely combines a high-end look with a bit of attitude. The main thing for Christian was creating products he would want to wear. 

The Garrion’s merch features several different design collections. Their most popular product so far is the premium tee in the Snake Bite design. Apart from tees, Christian also offers sweatshirts, hoodies, tote bags, tank tops, women’s tees, and die cut stickers featuring each design.  

Community is key

Christian’s merch collection has enabled his community and loyal patrons to show their support for the business. He’s utilizing social media to let people know about the products and has been overwhelmed by the response. Following promotional best practices like sharing visual posts is effective for creating engagement and driving sales. 

“Obviously social media is paramount, and staying ahead of the curve on those platforms is key. We have an incredibly loyal customer base who desperately want to help, so fueling the fire by creating things they can get excited about is priority. The way the community has gathered around us to offer support and words of encouragement has been so overwhelming and humbling. It reminds us that human beings are incredible.”

Never give up

While no one knows what the future holds, Christian plans to further diversify income through merch and creating new services at the restaurant like prepped meals, staple boxes with fresh ingredients, and more.  

“Stay up. It’s times like these that make us who we are, so keep swinging, and look out for each other. It’s the only thing we can do.”

Want to support Christian and his family? Check out his store and follow @thegarrisonmaine.