Kentucky pride is hard to match. If you’ve never visited the great Bluegrass state… well, y’all need to come see us. For those of you who live in Kentucky, or those of you who have been here before, you already know what I’m talking about. 

The breathtaking view of white picket fences. Horses. A setting sun over the city of Lexington. The sweetest southern hospitality you’ll ever experience east of the Mississippi River. Bourbon. Basketball. Small business. And wide-spread love for our state.

At least, these are my favorite things about Kentucky. And there is one Kentucky business, in particular, that stands out to me. 

Shop Local Kentucky began in 2013 when Rick & Joni Paynter began printing shirts in their garage for a non-profit mission. Today, Shop Local Kentucky sells apparel and decals for-profit while supporting a multitude of local Kentucky causes and missions.

In the last two years, Shop Local Kentucky has raised over $500,000 for various non-profit and charity groups. Not every piece they create raises funds but they do bring awareness and conversation to the table.

shop local ky web

Recently, Shop Local Kentucky created The Marco Tee. The Marco Tee was created in remembrance of a future Wildcat who tragically lost his life in an accident after attending a University of Kentucky football game. Shop Local Kentucky promised “50% of the net proceeds will benefit the Marco Shemwell Foundation to create #MarcoMoments, which are acts of kindness that leave ripples of positive change. Join us in honoring Marco.” The Marco Tee can be found here in adult and kid sizes.

I think it’s safe to say that Big Blue Nation was not prepared for this thoughtful, inspiring tee. 

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But there’s more. So much more. One of the largest known tees they’ve created is the Kentucky Strong tee supporting Marshall County victims and their families after the devastating shooting at the high school in 2018. 100% of the proceeds from this tee were donated which resulted in over $200,000 raised.

KY Strong

Shop Local Kentucky also created a series of tees that supported Kentucky teachers in their protest against the governor for their pensions. The shirts raised awareness nationally but the shop owners went to Frankfort and stood in support for teachers’ pensions. As a teacher’s daughter, I am so proud of this business for standing up for Kentucky teachers. 

If there’s something going on in Kentucky that needs attention, Shop Local Kentucky is there. Here’s a list of other causes they have recently supported:

Autism Awareness Tee

The Autism Awareness tee: 50% of proceeds donated to Autism Speaks with The Henry A. Quinn Charitable Foundation matching every donation.

Harlan Strong

The Harlan Strong Tee – Raised $72,000 that directly benefited miners through the Harlan County Community Action Agency.

217 Strong Tee

The 217 Tee – Raised over $30,000 for Deputy Jaime Morales, who was shot in the line of duty in September 2018.

Shop Local Kentucky has also helped to raise funds to feed Kentucky’s hungry, support Kentucky nurses, provide for Hurricane Florence victims, and so much more.

Shop Local Kentucky is doing a great job with their cause marketing. We’ve discussed cause marketing before with Walgreens and their Save Your Skin campaign. The great things Shop Local Kentucky is doing is both inspiring and impossible not to share. 

This small business is taking big problems and creating a strong awareness through their products. But they really put the cherry on top of their cause marketing with their “Stand with Our Teachers” tee and “Teach Kentucky” tee by actually standing side-by-side with teachers and their families at the capitol. 

stand with our teachers
teach kentucky

Local communities are constantly pushing to “shop local,” but I find it amazing that Shop Local Kentucky is turning around and giving right back to the community. Actually, not just the community. They’re giving back to the entire state of Kentucky. 

Want to know more about some of our favorite local Kentucky businesses? Check out our RoadTrip KY where we feature small businesses across the state and their stories.

Article Written By:

Tristen Davidson

Content & Research Strategist /Aspires to be Joanna Gaines