JUPMODE debuts T-shirt truckWritten by Danielle Stanton | | email@example.com
Local T-shirt mogul John Amato has found a way to do better in Toledo.
Amato, owner of T-shirt company JUPMODE, is now selling his, “You will do better in Toledo” shirt and his other popular Toledo pride T-shirts out of a multicolored truck he just bought two months ago.
The Perrysburg native said he plans to park the 24-foot-long truck at fairs, festivals and Downtown art walks to sell his wares and spread the “love” of Toledo.
“It’s a really creative and unique idea,” Amato said at his company headquarters in Perrysburg. “The whole purpose is to generate excitement, to spread love and Toledo pride, to share in the nostalgia of Toledo.
“People really are proud of Toledo because it’s a shared history and culture.”
Most of Amato’s business is wholesale and online and he hopes the truck will attract more customers who want his Toledo pride T-shirts, hoodies, drink koozies and stickers.
“You will do better in Toledo” and “We’re strong for Toledo” are Amato’s most popular shirts. He also sells shirts featuring the Tony Packo’s logo and two styles featuring the Buckeye Beer logo — which are so new they aren’t on the website yet — plus Lion Store, Tiedtke’s and Toledo Troopers shirts.
“Toledo was a great city and it still is,” Amato said. “There’s a lot more happening in Toledo than people give it credit for and I just want to be a part of the movement.”
His shirt “Someone in Toledo loves me” is highly popular with out-of-towners, he said. He fills orders regularly from Chicago and Columbus and has sold shirts as far away as Hawaii.
JUPMODE — which stands for “Jupiter” and the word “mode,” meaning fashion in French — is one of the premier Toledo pride T-shirt sellers in the city. The company has been in business for seven years, two at its current location in a strip mall in Perrysburg.
Amato got his start when he created a “sweater vest” T-shirt based on the style of Jim Tressel, former head coach of The Ohio State University football team, who wore sweater vests while he coached.
With that success, Amato expanded into University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University shirts and also became licensed in Michigan. His biggest customers are families, schools and businesses that buy wholesale.
After a friend recently spotted a T-shirt truck in Chicago and after observing the success of food trucks, Amato decided to go for it. He found his truck on Craigslist and added a window for customer purchases. Maumee-based CGS Imaging did the vinyl wrap.
The truck became fully operational the day before Thanksgiving. Amato parked it at The Shops at Fallen Timbers for Thanksgiving weekend and plans to be there every weekend in December.
“We think it’s a unique idea that has a wide application,” he said, adding that if the truck idea fails, he’ll at least have a new delivery truck.
More Toledo pride
Another Toledo pride T-shirt vendor, Max Reddish of Reddish Printing, said his goal is to not only promote his company but also to promote the city.
He sells his wares every Saturday at the Erie Street Market, at festivals like the Old West End, at various street fairs and online at reddishprinting.com.
“My goal is to be at events so that the shirts draw people to the events,” Reddish said. “Selling T-shirts is obviously a goal; I want to make money but [another important] goal is to get people out enjoying Toledo.
“It’s mutual promotion,” he said. “I promote Toledo and Toledo promotes my business.”
Reddish’s screen-printing company, located on the East Side, prints his flagship logo “Boring people hate Toledo.” He also prints “Wholly Toledo,” “Proud Toledoan” and simply “I like Toledo.” He has seven or eight Toledo pride designs, he said.
Reddish’s Toledo pride runs deep: He grew up in Toledo, lives in Toledo and earns a living in Toledo.
“I’m a Toledoan who makes shirts for Toledoans,” he said.
Tim Marshall and his wife Becky run Glass Wear, a company that celebrates their love of Toledo. Their Toledo pride T-shirts can be found at street fairs, the Arts Commission’s Art Walks, online at glasswear419.com and most recently at Handmade Toledo’s Maker’s Mart, where they sold 162 shirts — half of what they normally sell each month, Marshall said.
For every shirt they sell, they donate 13.6 pounds of food to help fight hunger in Toledo as part of Glass Wear’s partnership with local nonprofit Food for Thought.
Glass Wear even has a T-shirt, “This shirt provided 13.6 pounds of food to a Toledo family in need.” Marshall said it’s not a top seller but people do buy it.
Glass Wear started donating a portion of each sale to Food for Thought in July. They have averaged 900-1,000 pounds of food donated through their T-shirt sales per month but donated almost 4,500 pounds just in the month of November, Marshall said.
“We do it because we believe in Toledo and we want to give back,” Marshall said. “It’s not just a feel-good thing, it’s something we really believe in.”
Glass Wear is gearing up for the holiday season. On Black Friday, sales weren’t that great with about six orders as people shopped the mall instead, Marshall said.
On Black Friday weekend, Marshall did double the usual giving, donating 27.2 pounds of food per T-shirt sold. On Cyber Monday, they gave a 10 percent discount.
“We don’t really run a lot of sales because we give so much,” he said.
Glass Wear’s most popular T-shirt, the “Home” shirt with the shape of Ohio as the O, ships out of state every day and has been delivered to at least 40 states, including California, Florida and New York, Marshall said.
“It’s just insane,” he said about the out-of-state popularity.
The first eight T-shirts listed on his website are new designs, including the “Longitude and Latitude” shirt, the “Love Box” and the “419 Skull and Bones.”
“We try to roll out new designs every quarter and keep it fresh,” he said. “Last quarter, we did eight new designs.”
Marshall conducts a lot of his business via social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He also provides a delivery service in which he meets customers at local coffee shops, eliminating shipping costs. In one week, he delivered shirts to 15 people, he said.
“We want people to love the city as much as we do,” Marshall said. “If you don’t like it, fix it. … Let’s be a part of the process that makes it better.”
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