As businesses, politicians, and activists around the nation condemned an Indiana law that critics say allows business owners to discriminate against gay people, an Indianapolis man raised $25,000 by selling stickers that identify which shops and stores in his state welcome all customers.
Three weeks ago, as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act circulated through the Indiana Legislature, Josh Driver said he became worried that many of his business-owner friends were left out of the debate. "I saw a growing number of people wondering where they could take their money where they wouldn’t be turned away," he said.
To combat the notion that the state is intolerant of gays and lesbians, Mr. Driver put up a website to sell stickers that send a different message.
"This business serves everyone," read the stickers, which are emblazoned with a bright red heart.
Mr. Driver said he has sold 3,000 of them, generating $25,000 after printing costs. He plans to donate the proceeds to Score, a national nonprofit that mentors small-business owners.
By keeping tabs of his progress on Facebook and Twitter, Mr. Driver learned that there were other ways to spread the message. Churches, nonprofits, and individuals wanted to be included in the effort, he said. To meet demand, he quickly produced designs that featured people’s faces and churches that read "this organization" or "this individual" supports everyone.
Mr. Driver, who works at a national technology company he declined to identify, has included information on the businesses that purchase the stickers on the Open for Service website. Users will be able to search the business database and comment on companies that participate.
About 80 percent of the stickers have been sold in Indiana, he said. So far, the directory includes businesses in 30 states and seven countries.
Mr. Driver said he’d like to continue to build on the effort, but the fast-moving news (on Thursday, Indiana lawmakers introduced changes to the law) and intense national interest in the issue have left him swamped.
"I’m trying to plan what the next step is," he says, "but I haven’t slept in three weeks."