POLL: Have you given money to the shooting victims?
Kristi Manning isn't a graphic designer. She's co-owner of a Chattanooga gun store and shooting range.
But there's been strong demand for Manning's design of the words "Nooga Strong" over a Tennessee-shaped, billowing U.S. flag on $15 T-shirts and $2.50 bumper stickers for sale at Carter Shooting Supply and Range on Highway 58. The shirts and stickers raise funds for families of the five U.S. serviceman who died after Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez's July 16 shooting rampage in Chattanooga.
"We've sold 292 of 'em," Manning said Friday of the T-shirts. "Ten dollars of [each sale] goes to the families."
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office ordered 250 of Manning's bumper stickers to put on their vehicles, which she sold to them at cost.
"We will put them on the patrol cars," Sheriff Jim Hammond said. "Everybody [on the command staff] thought it was great, so we decided to go with that."
Manning's offerings are just one example of a cottage industry of charitable "Nooga Strong" merchandise and branding that sprang up at Chattanooga area stores, online and elsewhere in the wake of the July 16 shooting. People around the country have raised funds for the victims' families through purchase of merchandise with the "Nooga Strong" slogan inspired by the "Boston Strong" catchphrase that arose after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Zeke and Whitney Tucker sold more than 130 of their $15 "Nooga Strong" T-shirts Sunday at their booth at the Chattanooga Market, a food, arts and crafts seasonal market at the Tennessee Pavilion. Zeke Tucker, a graphic designer, came up with a T-shirt that has "Nooga Strong" emblazoned over a stylized Walnut Street pedestrian bridge on the front and the words "We will not be shaken" on the back.
"Hope was what I was trying to get out," he said. "That's why the sun rays are shooting from [the bridge]."
The T-shirts were printed by 127 Press, a home-based screen printing shop owned by Casey and Natalie Whitaker. They had sold about 100 of the Tucker-designed "Nooga Strong" shirts on the 127 Press website as of Friday. All proceeds after expenses will go to victims' families.
"T-shirts are a great way to raise money for different causes, and after the tragedy happened a few weeks ago, we really wanted to do something to support the families of those that lost loved ones," Whitaker said.
Several hundred $8 vehicle window stickers that say "Nooga Strong" over an image of the Walnut Street bridge were sold at Vinterest Antiques near Northgate Mall in Hixson after Jodi Pierce opened a new booth dedicated solely to the stickers, antique mall manager Austin Temple said.
And several thousand orders were placed for $25 "Nooga Strong" T-shirts offered by the Nashville Shirt Company, an online retailer that has pledged to all profits to the victims' families. Its co-owner Jeff Walker was not available Friday.
One of the first "Nooga Strong" charitable T-shirts to hit the Internet was put there by Chase Clem, the parks and recreation director for the city of Rockwood, Tenn. The $15 T-shirts were available the day after the shooting, he said.
"I saw the hash tag on Twitter and thought it would be a way to raise awareness," said Clem, a 2012 Bryan College grad, who had the shirts made by Reno's Sporting Goods in Harriman, Tenn. He had sold about 50 online by Friday, and expects to be sold out Monday.
The #ChattanoogaStrong hashtag has appeared around the country on Lamar Advertising Company electronic billboards. The company displayed the image of five U.S. flags at half-mast near the Statute of Liberty on available digital billboard space nationwide from July 22-30, Lamar spokeswoman Allie McAlpin said. Lamar operates 2,201 digital billboards nationwide.
Manning gave 16 of the T-shirts to the family of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, who was laid to rest Tuesday at Chattanooga National Cemetery. Smith's family members came to the gun store to pick up the shirts.
"It was really cool to meet them and tell them, 'Thank you,'" Manning said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/tim.omarzu or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.