Just in time for the holiday shopping season, two local businesses have teamed up to help during this difficult year.
Steve Terlouw at Newton Apparel reached out to Dawn Bleeker at the Capitol II Theatre in Newton and offered to host a T-Shirt fundraiser to help give back to the local theatre.
“I try to support our local theater as I know many small towns don’t have a theater let alone one that is as nice as ours. It’s another small business in the community that if we don’t help support and keep the money here it will be gone,” Terlouw said.
Newton Apparel has operated online stores for different organizations in the community to make it easier on the business or help raise some extra funds. Capitol II announced the fundraiser on its Facebook page Nov. 14.
“I’m excited to announce that Newton Apparel reached out and offered to do a T-shirt Fundraiser to help the theater during this uncertain time. We haven’t done a new Capitol II Theatre shirt in a couple years, so it’s time,” Bleeker wrote in the Facebook post.
Those interested can visit the online store at newtonapparel.printavo.com/merch/iheartcapitol2 and choose from the option T-Shirts, crewnecks, hoodies and two facemask options with a photo of Joy on them. $10 of all the apparel items will be going directly to the theatre.
Terlouw said the response has been great so far with 63 orders as of noon on Tuesday, just four days after the initial announcement. The orders had already raised more than $1,300 for the theatre as of Saturday.
“I’m thrilled with the response,” Bleeker said. “I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the funds being raised or the number of people we will see wearing Capitol II Theatre shirts/face masks.”
As a thank you to those who purchase the new Capitol II merchandise, the Facebook post also said there will be certain days or weeks where people can get free popcorn when attending a movie while wearing the items. Those times will be posted to the theatre’s Facebook page and announced in the e-newsletter.
Orders can be mailed to customers or can be picked up at the theatre. The first cutoff date for orders is Nov. 30. The second is Dec. 7 to ensure people get their items before Christmas. Terlouw said Newton Apparel will be printing shirts this week so customers can buy them at the theatre as well.
The need to support local business is an important one to Terlouw owning several businesses of his own.
“Sometimes we take small businesses for granted and think that well they’ve been around for 25 years they won’t go out of business if I go to see a movie in Des Moines. It does make a difference though. Every dollar that is spent in a small business is returned to the community way more than shopping at a big box theater,” he said.
Bleeker said she received the email from Newton Apparel “completely out of the blue.” She said having other businesses and people in the community reach out to her to see how they can help support the local theatre has left her “speechless.”
“It’s very humbling. Because of the support thus far, we will make it through the end of the year. Just last month I wasn’t positive I could say that,” Bleeker said.
This certainly has been a trying year for many local businesses, but the movie industry has taken a massive blow with delayed releases or changing how a new film is released to an audience. This has a great impact on local theaters like the Capitol II because they are not able to attract moviegoers in the same way without big name releases. As Bleeker points out, they are at the mercy of the studios to release movies. When that isn’t happening, it leaves the Capitol II without a product to sell.
The pandemic has forced the theatre to operate at less than 100 percent capacity and a reduced showing schedule taking away more potential revenue.
“For us to be able to make it as far as we have is because of some government assistance and community support. Otherwise, we would have been closed months ago. We feel very fortunate, because we know other movie theaters aren’t fairing well,” Bleeker said.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced at the beginning of the month further relief for the state’s movie theaters. The COVID-19 Movie Theater Relief Program hopes to provide short-term relief to theaters who have felt the impact of the health crisis.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked to find a balance to protect the lives and livelihoods of Iowans,” Reynolds said. “In so many small towns and rural communities, a movie theater can be the lifeblood of main street. This program will assist movie theaters in their day-to-day operations alleviating some of the economic strain they are seeing as a result of virus mitigation and social distancing practices.”
As Bleeker reflects on the “surreal” year, she remembers all they have gone through to keep the doors open, and it hasn’t been easy.
“I have been discouraged more times than not, but then someone, either a business or a person, will send me a message or give me a call asking how we’re doing, how can they help, give ideas, give donations, go door-to-door for donations, do fundraisers, offer to volunteer, write an article… And it never ceases to amaze me. If it wasn’t for the community rallying around us/the theater, we would have a different outcome,” Bleeker said.
On the positive side, Bleeker is “excited” the theatre will be open for the Thanksgiving holiday with a new release, “The Croods: A New Age” which opens Wednesday, Nov. 25. It will be shown in both theaters to give plenty of showtime options and the ability to maintain a good social distance. Bleeker also expects to have new releases for Christmas day as well.
“As far as 2021? We have no idea what it will bring to the movie industry. So for now we will continue to be thankful and feel blessed that we live in a community who are so supportive of us and love their local movie theater,” Bleeker said.
Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or [email protected]