The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses to adapt and change and come up with creative ways to survive mandated shutdowns. Since the start of the pandemic, the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce has been working to provide support to the local business community.

One of the chamber’s latest efforts is a T-shirt fundraising program, developed by the chamber in collaboration with Energy Tees, itself a Forest Park business at 1401 Circle Ave.

Christine Westphal Barnard, the chamber’s community outreach director, said Energy Tees approached the chamber with a fundraising idea to help local businesses, a program open to any business, community organization or nonprofit.

Energy Tees will print T-shirts with business designs or slogans and sell them in an online store. The shirts cost $20, half of which goes to the T-shirt company with the other half going directly to the business.

“This is a great example of a business/chamber partnership at work,” said Barnard. “This program brings needed work to Energy Tees and money in the pocket for the businesses. It is a great program and a real example of #forestparkstrong.”

Jonathon Biag and Dexter Cura, owners of Escape Factor on Madison Street, are joining the T-shirt fundraiser.

“As a participant of the chamber’s T-shirt fundraiser, the purchase of every T-shirt will not only help us keep our doors open, but it will help promote Forest Park as being a great place to live, eat, shop, and play,” they said in an email. They also expressed how much being a part of the Forest Park community has meant to them and their business.

“What we love about being in Forest Park is the sense of community and how they’ve always welcomed having such a unique business for everyone to experience and enjoy.” In a recent online competition, Escape Factor was voted the fifth favorite escape room in the country; they attribute doing so well to the votes of locals and Facebook followers.

Katherina Valleau, of Exit Strategy Brewing, is also excited about the team-up between Energy Tees and local businesses.

“The fine folks at Energy Tees have been not only generous but creative with their ‘love local’ initiative,” said Valleau. “This collaboration brings local businesses together through T-shirts, which we all love and need!”

Valleau said it wasn’t a hard decision to sign up for the program.

“For us at Exit Strategy Brewing, this team-up was a no-brainer,” she said. “Supporting another local business while getting our brand further out into the community hits the mark for us in the current climate of business. We, the local small businesses, are all scared (we might use different terms, but the bottom line is that this lockdown is scary with regard to our individual and collective future) and working together makes getting through these crazy times a little easier.”

Barnard said the chamber is “actively promoting this program with our business community” and will take an active role in promoting shirt sales.

Businesses currently with product in the store include Healy’s, Exit Strategy, POP Pediatrics, Famous Victory, O’Sullivans, Forest Park Emporium, 209 Together, Core Strength Personal Training, Pet Emporium, Escape Factor and a combined Park District and Forest Park Public Library offering.

Peruse offerings at

One reply on “Chamber teams with Energy Tees to raise funds”