‘Boston Strong’ T-shirts flying off the shelves
From Adidas, whose “Boston Stands as One” T-shirt has raised more than $1 million, to a Revere school nurse’s “We Are Strong” shirt, which generated $700 in online sales, major retailers, Boston sports teams, and average citizens are selling massive amounts of Boston-related apparel to raise money for victims of the Marathon bombings.
Many of the shirts feature the blue and yellow Boston Marathon colors, with some variation of the city skyline and the words “Boston Strong.”
Most of the proceeds are going to the One Fund Boston, the charity set up by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino to support the people most affected by the explosions on April 15, which killed three and injured 264.
Michelle Salamone, 24, cofounder of the online custom apparel start-up SOsponsored, was sitting in the Starbucks near the finish line on Boylston Street when the bombs shattered the windows and shook the ground. Her business partner, Jason Feldman, 26, went to high school with the Stoneham brothers who each lost a leg in the blasts.
The next day, the pair stayed up all night to design a logo — a yellow heart on a blue background with the city skyline, the words “Boston Strong,” and the date 4.15.13 — and started promoting it on Facebook and Twitter. Friends have come to SOsponsored’s Stoneham office to help package orders. So far, they have sold 1,500 shirts and 500 stickers and raised more than $38,000 for the One Fund.
“It’s overwhelming,” Salamone said, “but in the best way possible.”
Major retailers have had huge success selling shirts for the One Fund. Adidas has raised more than $1 million with its limited-edition T-shirt, which, like several others, sells for $26.20 — a reference to the 26.2-mile Marathon course.
Life is Good, whose Boylston Street office was less than 40 feet from the second bomb blast, sold 15,000 T-shirts in just two days on its website and at two stores; the company is delivering the shirt to hundreds of franchise stores and wholesale customers this week.
On Thursday, Judy Scott, visiting from Maylene, Ala., bought two T-shirts at Life is Good on Newbury Street as she waited, cellphone in hand, to hear whether her three kids wanted them as well. She also bought two Boston Strong T-shirts at Cheers.
“This is one way we can let people in Boston know we’re supporting them from around the country,” Scott said.
Stefanie Badolato, a school nurse in Revere, felt an overwhelming urge to help. So she and a friend found an online program that walked them through the process, and they designed a white “We Are Strong” shirt with a skyline. The shirt is on Teespring.com, a Providence-based custom apparel site that has raised about $100,000 for the One Fund, including $700 from Badolato.
“I know it’s not as much as everyone else, but it’s still something,” Badolato said. “It’ll help somebody.”
Boston sports teams have joined in the fund-raising. The Bruins have collected more than $100,000, and the Boston Cannons lacrosse team has raised about $30,000 with versions of “Boston Strong” shirts and other donations. The sports apparel company ‘47 Brand has brought in more than $300,000 from its “B Strong” cap featuring the Red Sox “B.”
David Ortiz’s quote heard around the world before Saturday’s Red Sox game propelled Barstool Sports into action. After Ortiz told the crowd, “This is our [expletive] city,” the website designed a shirt featuring the phrase. Barstool Sports has raised $165,000 from the Big Papi-inspired shirt, plus two others. David Portnoy, president of the Boston company, said he wants to help those who might not qualify for One Fund money, such as first responders or the Watertown man whose boat was damaged during the capture of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The online retailer Chowdaheadz is selling a T-shirt that says: “There’s strong and then there’s Boston Strong.” It plans to donate 20 percent of total online sales April 15-30 to the One Fund, an estimated $30,000, but got into hot water with customers after it filed a notice for the phrase “Boston Strong” with the Patent and Trademark Office. Owner Ryan Gormady said the action was taken to protect his company in case someone trademarked it later. “We never intended to actually pursue it as a full trademark,” he said.
One of the first T-shirts to use the phrase “Boston Strong” was designed by Emerson College students Nick Reynolds and Chris Dobens. The friends created a simple T-shirt with yellow block letters on a blue background and hooked up with the Milwaukee company Ink to the People. Spreading the word on Facebook, they have sold some 37,000 T-shirts, raising more than $566,000 for the One Fund.
“We were just really tired of watching the news cycle over and over,” said Reynolds, 20, a cinematography major, “and we decided to do something about it.”