Starfish Award Winner: Cool as a Moose
Maine stores’ “round-up” fundraisers support LGBTQ causes.
Peace, love and giving back
Peace, love and Cool as a Moose is a way of life and doing business for owners Ben Dunbar and Kip Stone. The T-shirt design and gift shop business supports communities where it has stores. “They support us in business so we thought, ‘Maybe there is a way we can give something back to those who really show up for us,’” says Dunbar.
Cool as a Moose has raised more than $25,000 for EqualityMaine since it started its annual “round up” initiative eight years ago. EqualityMaine is the state’s oldest and largest statewide organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society for the LGBTQ+ community. It organizes educational and advocacy efforts, while also collaborating with progressive groups to provide programming.
Customers can choose to throw in extra change to bring their order up to a whole dollar amount or add a donation to EqualityMaine at checkout. “We reached out to them because we were aware of all they do in Maine — and their work aligns with our mission of peace, love and Cool as a Moose,” says Dunbar.
Caring in the community“We always found that people from all walks of life come into our stores, and we identified fairly quickly that the LGBTQ+ community really enjoyed what we were doing and are supporting us in business,” Dunbar says. “So we thought maybe we could do something to give back.”
A desire to spread good vibes is something customers have in common. This year, Cool as a Moose raised $6,000 for EqualityMaine.
At its newest store in Provincetown, Massachusetts, check-out donations benefit Family Equality’s Family Week, the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ+ families in the world. “Similar to EqualityMaine, they go to bat for LGBTQ rights,” Dunbar says.
“We only exist because of the communities we are in and it’s important for us to support the people who live here year-round so they can keep doing what they do.” — Ben Dunbar
Spreading the loveIf a customer has an idea, Dunbar and his team are all ears — or should we say, antlers? Aside from EqualityMaine and Family Equality, the store supports Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick (Maine) and the local Alzheimer’s Association.
“Any time there is a silent auction at a school, we will donate,” Dunbar adds. Just as the brand aims to provide long-lasting products — “we want it to last forever”— making a positive, lasting impression on the community is a priority, too.