Super Bowl shirt sales explode for Milton company

Staff writerJanuary 28, 2014 

Elka Morgan pulls a "Bronco Busters" tee shirt out of the direct-to-garment printer at Northwest Embroidery in Milton, January 24, 2014.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Randy Fountain, art director at Northwest Embroidery, knew what he had to do even before he talked to the boss.

And the boss – in this case, that would be Operations Manager Erik Mickelson – also knew.

“I just walked in and said, ‘Let’s make a shirt,’” Mickelson said last week.

The Seahawks had beaten the ‘49ers a few hours before and the team was headed for the Super Bowl.

Mickelson’s first inclination was to use the term “Hawk Nation” on a T-shirt. 

But alas. “A guy in Enumclaw had already claimed and registered the name,” he said.

Northwest Embroidery recently added equipment able to produce “direct to garment” printing wherein a computer-designed image is sent directly to a printer, a process not unlike that used in a office color printer. 

No more tedious and cumbersome silkscreens. No more inks to worry about.

Mulling a final design, Mickelson suggested “Bronco Busters.” And there was no copyright problem. Fountain came up with “Bring on the Boom.” Again, no problem. 

Other early ideas - “Hawks’ Pride,” “Turn Up the Boom” and “Why Not Us” — failed the first edit.

“Bronco Busters” and “Bring on the Boom” it would be, with blue and green predominant.

Fountain had the final design by 8:30 Monday morning and the first shirts were drying less than two hours later.

At 9 a.m., April Balsley,  who handles inside sales for the Milton company, sent an email blast to several customers – to law firms, CPAs, contractors, restaurants.

The shirts would be $12 each with the purchase of 12 or more.

The company had considered displaying  “12th Man,” on the shirt, but they knew the phrase was already commercially owned and would be expensive to use. So too with “Super Bowl” and “Seattle Seahawks.” One shirt would cost $25, and two-11 units $20 each.

The design went up on the company readerboard, and on Facebook, and with the design also pictured on Northwest Embroidery’s website, orders were beginning to come in before those first shirts were finished.

“My inbox went from seven emails to 47 in 10 minutes,” Balsley said.

“It’s a hot market,” said Mickelson. “People want this stuff now. January is a slow time. This is a blessing in disguise.”

“This isn’t the kind of thing we usually do,” Balsley said. “But because we have the capacity, why wouldn’t we offer it?”

“You just can’t help being excited,” Fountain said. “We’re the little guys, and we don’t have the NFL license. We’re doing something for the local crowd.”

Since last week the orders, Balsley said, “have been coming in non-stop.”

And there’s more to come.

Said Mickelson, “Now we have to gear up for when they win.”

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