PROVIDENCE — In just three days, a Rhode Island gift shop has sold 2,722 T-shirts bearing Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s message for residents who blow off her social distancing directives: “Knock it off."
Frog & Toad, in Providence, is donating 20 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the $22 T-shirts to the Rhode Island Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. So the T-shirts have now provided nearly $12,000 for the fund’s grants to nonprofits such as the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen and Meals on Wheels.
“Rhode Islanders continue to astound me,” Frog & Toad co-owner Asher Schofield said Tuesday. “The biggest hearts are definitely here in the smallest state.”
During daily news conferences about the coronavirus, Raimondo has taken an increasingly stern tone with those who disobey directives aimed at containing the outbreak.
The governor has ordered Rhode Islanders to stay at home for all but essential reasons, avoid gatherings of more than five people, and remain 6 feet apart. But she has reported seeing large groups playing football in a field or standing in line to buy clam cakes in Narragansett. And she has repeatedly demanded that those people “Knock it off!” and “Shut it down!”
“We all need an Italian mother right now,” Schofield said. “Break out the wooden spoon.”
When it comes to clam cakes, he said he gets it. “They are our sustenance,” he said. “Just queue up at a socially responsible distance.”
Schofield said Raimondo’s message seems to be getting through to people.
“The messaging has been on point,” he said. “It would have been nice if it were received by more people sooner. But if you do go out, you don’t see anybody out there right now.”
Frog & Toad, which opened 19 years ago, shut its doors two weeks ago, but is still selling items online, including the “Knock it off” T-shirts, which were designed by Maret Bondorew of Frog & Toad Press and printed by Parched.
“We are not selling this shirt to capitalize on a crisis,” Schofield said. “The margin is razor thin,” and 20 percent of the money is going to help nonprofits supported by the COVID-19 Relief Fund, he said. “We saw what the Rhode Island Foundation was doing, and we wanted to do what little we could.”
Schofield said he is seeing locals help each other during the crisis.
“Rhode Islanders are a special breed,” he said. “They are plucky and they care, and they see that to get through this, we need to come together as neighbors.”
Frog & Toad has already begun working on another T-shirt bearing the words: “Shut it down!”
Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org