LIVERPOOL

Coronavirus: Liverpool retailers pitch in for coronavirus support

With the strain on public services and charities, a group of Liverpool-based independent business are chipping in to help those most vulnerable.

Coronavirus: Liverpool retailers pitch in for coronavirus support
PETER POWELL EFE

Liverpool retailer Hat, Scarf or a Badge (HSOAB) has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The store began when lifelong Reds fan Michael Deane started designing Liverpool-themed T-shirts for his family and mates, before realising that there might be a market for them. It is now five years since he and wife Michelle opened up a small shop in Anfield, just around the corner from the stadium, and they have been selling T-shirts ever since.

They now offer a full range of Reds-related clothing and mementos, and HSOAB has become a staple of Merseyside wardrobes. Liverpool legends John Barnes and Bruce Grobbelaar have been seen wearing them and Jamie Carragher even sported one of their designs during an appearance on Sky Sports.

But they are just one of the many shops and stalls who celebrate the city’s unique outlook and they form a community of independent retailers. With coronavirus making life tough for the most vulnerable in society, this like-minded group have come together to help out.

Working together with HSOAB are football apparel brands Love Follow Conquer, Scouse For Tee, 12th Man Footy, Fansworld and The Footy Stalls; alongside Transalpino, Lyver Design and With Love From Liverpool who celebrate the city’s culture.

AS English spoke to HSOAB’s founder Michael, and he explained how this community of local businesses has rallied together to help those worst-affected by the outbreak.

HSOAB founder talks about community during coronavirus

“We saw the effect the situation was having on our community and knew we had to help as much as we could.

“The pandemic has hit everybody hard but especially those who were already the most vulnerable in society, so we wanted to do what we could to help out. Solidarity is key to our ethos.”

The government has advised everyone, particularly the elderly and those more susceptible to illness, to self-isolate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. But this has made it difficult for some to access the goods and services that they desperately need.

Liverpool FC StadiumA view of the statue of Bill Shankly which is placed outside KOP stand at Liverpool FC stadium at Anfield, Liverpool.

Foodbanks, for example, are currently experiencing considerably higher demand and are now offering delivery to help support those who find themselves house-bound. Michael explains the financial support that the group were able to provide to those organisations.

“We had built up a ‘War Chest’ of money in order to pay for any legal fees for our group, as and when necessary. But in this time of crisis with everyone struggling amid the coronavirus outbreak we thought the money could be put to much better use helping those who are struggling.

“We chose a range of different charities who we know work directly with those most vulnerable in our community and tried to cover as many sectors as we could, from foodbanks to OAP services and mental health charities.”

Combining the emergency finances of those nine local retailers, the group made considerable donations to the Paul Lavelle Foundation, Fans for Foodbanks, Kirkdale ABC and to help improve special needs provisions at Evelyn Primary School and Ashley High School.

News of the incredible donations was met with an outpouring of support on social media with one praising the way that the people of Liverpool, whether red or blue, were coming together.

Unfortunately however, the Liverpool businesses who donated the money will also be affected by the virus. The lack of vital match day revenue will hit all businesses linked to the club, and HSOAB’s Anfield store will be closed until the risk posed to the public has dropped.

“As for the effect on our business we are like everyone else; unsure of the effect as we have never experienced anything like this before. We just hope we can come out of it. Orders online have dropped quite a bit this week which we understand as a lot of people will be worried about income and jobs.”