One recurring theme when I started my business is that I didn’t have a well thought out plan. I’m much better at trying things out and making changes based on results than planning to perfection. My first shirt, the OSU Sweater Vest T-Shirt, was no different.
With the big game coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to look back at those early days. They are my best memories of football season and the glory days of Jupmode.
On home game weekends in Columbus, I would sell shirts at the 7-Eleven on Lane Avenue near Ohio Stadium. In order to sell in this spot, I had to acquire a Peddler’s License from Franklin County and receive permission from the property owner to use his land. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure the store manager just pocketed the cash I handed him. Either way, it was a prime location.
If you haven’t been to a game in Columbus, it’s a sight to see. Lane Avenue is packed with people all before the game. An Ohio State tailgate is one of the best pregame scenes in college football. It should be on the list of every die hard football fan.
Our vendor setup was bare bones. It consisted of a white fold up table and large clear plastic bags of the one shirt I was selling - the Jim Tressel Sweater Vest T-shirt.
The Friday before games, I’d pile all of it into my Honda Civic, drive down to Columbus (hopefully with a friend who would help me sell), stay at a cousins house overnight, and then set it all out early Saturday morning.
Fortunately, sales can greatly benefit from location as our only sales technique was hanging a shirt on a long piece of wood and holding it high in the air or even directly in front of people as they walked past. What I missed out on in marketing, planning, and branding, I made up for with a unique product. There was nothing like it and sales were always good on game days.
These early days of selling at games were fun. But it was still work. I learned a lot from this experience. It was the foundation that taught me about sales, licensing, inventory, finances, and fear of failure. It took a while, but I learned how to become more professional and took this one shirt from a hobby to a real business.