The Boston-New York sports rivalry is so iconic that it often spills over into the business world — the sports business world, at least.
The owner of a North Shore T-shirt company is hoping to play on that rivalry by calling out Target in a full-page Boston Herald ad on Monday, criticizing the retailer for using a New York designer in its “Local Pride” initiative.
Sully’s Brand prints and sells T-shirts with local themes — sayings such as “Free Brady,” and “Believe in Boston” — and argues that Minneapolis-based Target should be using a local company like Sully’s to source its own Boston-themed wear instead of New York-based designer Todd Snyder. Both Target and Sully’s sell “Green Monstah” shirts.
The “Dear Target” letter published in the Herald includes the following line in bold face: “Outsourcing Boston Pride to NYC? The home of the Yankees? The Evil Empire?! Say it ain’t so, Target. Say it ain’t so.” The letter was accompanied by photos of some Sully’s shirts.
The ad also mentions that it has a trademark to the phrase “Green Monstah.”
A spokeswoman for the Todd Snyder menswear line referred questions to Target. Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels said in an email that the company is looking into the issue. “We have a deep appreciation for design, including the design rights of others,” she said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Snyder came to Boston in January to research themes for the clothing line. While here, he visited the Cheers bar and Fenway Park, and Fluffernutters and Dunkin’ coffee emerged as important local delicacies, according to the Journal story. Snyder is researching Chicago and San Francisco for future launches in those cities.
Sully’s Brand owner Chris Wrenn said he first heard about Target’s “Local Pride” initiative about two weeks ago, when it kicked off in Boston area stores.
“I went to the Danvers Target store (and) there were racks upon racks of ‘Boston Pride’ merchandise,” Wrenn said. “The first thing that bummed me out was one of the biggest marquee items was a ‘Green Monstah’ T-shirt.”
Wrenn has held a state trademark for the T-shirt phrase “Green Monstah” since 2008. He said Monday that he hadn’t yet reached out to Target, and has no plans to pursue any legal action.
Wrenn just wants Target to hire Sully’s to make the next batch of shirts. He declined to say how much the company spent on the Herald ad, although he said he received a discount because the ad mentioned his firm’s charitable work.
“We don’t have a lot of the resources that a larger brand does but we could accommodate them if they decide to sell our shirts,” Wrenn said. “If not, I’m hoping that there are a number of other retail outlets in the area that are going to be finding out about us for the first time.”Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.