Read This Shirt

Apr 2, 2010

As the coach of my youngest son’s soccer team, each spring and fall we get new T-shirt uniforms. For me that means a trip to a local shop that applies numbers on the back.

It’s always an enjoyable experience—partly because our parent company, National Business Media, publishes Printwear magazine, which is a business publication for the printed apparel industry, so we always have something to talk about—and also because they are nice, local businesspeople who do a good job, making it the kind of place you feel happy having visited once you leave.

Most independent speed and performance shops are much the same way, working to create an enjoyable experience for their customers. And you can have even more in common with my local printed apparel business if you take a moment to think about the shirt on your back—or on your rack.

If you’re like me, then you feel lucky to be part of an industry that actually encourages dressing casually—whether it’s T-shirts, pit crew shirts or mechanic’s shirts. Here at the magazine, we quickly learned that printed Performance Business shirts fit in a lot better at trade shows and other events than sport coats and ties.

And the shirts you see around are cool—featuring cartoon hot rods, flames, skulls and pinstripes—which makes it even better.

Automotive and racing shirts are part of our industry’s culture. Many of the shops we’ve encountered and profiled in the magazine wear shirts featuring their company’s logo to work every day. And one of the shops highlighted in our April 2010 issue (DBR High Performance in Springhill, Tenn.) even throws in some of its shirts as an extra gift for clients who bring in custom projects.

“It’s part of the overall outstanding experience we’re trying to provide,” DBR’s Brian Duncan told me, noting that the company offers its branded shirts for sale in its showroom as well.

Shop shirts are a great way to promote your business. And you don’t have to stop there.

Companies like Detroit Muscle and others offer automotive-related apparel and accessories that can provide increased profits and add to your showroom’s offerings and décor. Walk-in customers may see a must-have design and buy it on the spot, and shirts also are easily transported to the racetrack or other events to be sold or given away.

“Speed shops can benefit immensely by offering wearables or collectables in addition to hardcore speed parts,” notes Shane Montgomery of Quick Fuel Technology in that same issue’s Nostalgia Drags article (page 20). “Gifts and collectables will also open up an entire new customer base, because families will now be more apt to shop for Dad or their husband.”

So think about automotive apparel as another way to tell your shop’s story or even earn a few extra bucks. We all know you’d give your customers the shirt off your back anyway—so why not sell them one instead that lets them show the world their passion for speed and performance.