November in Memphis means two things: One, it’s time to start thinking about gift giving and holiday shopping. And two, the Grizzlies are back on the court, which means all over Memphis, we’re seeing shirts, signs and bright yellow Growl Towels with slogans like “#wigsnatch,” “Grit & Grind” and “Memphis vs. Errrbody.” (If you don’t get it, you need to start following Tony Allen and Justin Timberlake on Twitter.) Anyway, we’re thinking — why not combine the two? Knock out shopping for the Grizz fans on your list by checking out the home-grown Grizzlies gear at local brick-and-mortar stores and online shops.
Like a lot of Memphis industry, the local Grizzlies T-shirt trend (and not just Grizz, but Tigers, too, and all things 901) is ground-up, grassroots and built from scratch by our city’s creative and innovative entrepreneurs. This particular trend is so prevalent (and so unique to Memphis) that it got this write-up in The New York Times. We asked Eric Evans — co-founder and president of Sachë Memphis, which has one of the biggest permanent displays of Grindfather awesomeness around town — how he got started in the game.
“Around 2011, 2012, when the Grizzlies really started to gain some traction, we started exploring options with Memphis-style T-shirts,” Eric says. “We decided to personify some of the players and capture what Memphis is about. It just kept developing as it went on, and it became one of our passions. To this day, we still try to crank out a new one at least once a month.” Sachë has taken its tees to the streets now, too, with a mobile unit that’s like a food truck for T-shirts. “We can custom screen print on-site with what we call our T-shirt machine,” he says.
Alec Wilson, graphic designer and owner of MemphiCity Design, started experimenting with Grizzlies tees after adding custom T-shirts to his printing company’s product lineup. “I’ve always been a giant Grizzlies fan,” he says. “I was playing around with designs one day, printing some shirts, and people liked them. It’s still like a little side project for my business — the main thing we do is print custom orders for traditional print products, like business cards, flyers, banners, brochures. My love of the Grizzlies, this is a side thing I do for fun.”
What’s so special about Memphis’ brand of NBA merchandise? That’s just it. It’s not “NBA.” Careful to avoid breaking licensing laws and such, T-shirt artists are creating a brand that’s based on the people, not the logo or the league. “We can’t necessarily use their likeness in the way that we would like to,” Eric explains. “We have to find creative ways around that.”
That means, for instance, the shirts can’t use the team’s logo or photos of the players. But they can say “Grit & Grind,” “Grindhouse,” “We Don’t Bluff” and all those other pithy phrases our city’s favorite ballplayers are using to capture Memphis’ heart and soul. “We don’t ever outright use the Grizzlies logo because they wouldn’t allow that,” Alec says. “People like anything with the word ‘grind’ on it … we use that a lot and just try to come up with clever designs, funny catch phrases, things like that.”
Capturing the grit, heart and soul of Memphis in a few phrases? Not an easy thing to do. But Tony Allen, Z-Bo and the like are doing it well — and now we can wear our 901 pride on our sleeves. Read on for great places to shop for Grizzlies T-shirts and gear.
Five in One Social Club
2535 Broad Ave. • 901-308-2104 • fiveinone.org
We spotted these awesome Grit & Grind candles at Five in One Social Club on Broad Avenue. Go here for handcrafted, locally made merchandise of all kinds, including tees that tout the 901. Known as Kindergarten for Grown Folks, Five in One also hosts creative workshops for small groups. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
525 S. Main St. • 901-922-5549 • sachedesign.com
This South Main retailer started eight years ago in co-owner Eric Evans’ garage, where he and his partners did custom shirts for businesses and nonprofits. The business grew so fast that Eric’s wife had to kick it out of the house to make room for the couple’s twins. A Downtown Memphis Commission grant helped the group launch its brick-and-mortar store, and around 2012, Sachë added Grizz tees to its mix. Now, they’re a mainstay. Sachë is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Graphic designer Alec Wilson, owner of MemphiCity Design, creates traditional custom print products for clients ranging from businesses to schools to nonprofits. But his side business is in unique, creative Grizzlies tees, and it’s a labor of love. “This is a side thing I do for fun,” he says. The tees are displayed and available to order online.
Grind City Memphis
This local retailer is all about the Grind City, with T-shirts, tank tops, long-sleeve tees and hoodies available in its online store. Touting free shipping to Memphis ZIP codes and free shipping for orders $30 and up, Grind City Memphis offers a range of unique designs, including the self-titled number below. Learn more at grindcitymem.com.
Rick Trotter Online Store
Straight from the voice of the arena! The Grizzlies’ own Rick Trotter, PA announcer for the Grizz at FedExForum, has gotten into the game of Grizzlies merchandise, with tees and Trotter’s signature “Let Me Hear You Scream” poster available online. All proceeds from the sale of products on his site support the ministry and mission of Downtown Church Memphis, where Trotter serves as worship and creative arts pastor.
Chris Porter, founder and “seamster” of Memphis-based Pillow Tees, started sewing pillows as gifts for family and friends. Now, his company transforms customers’ favorite shirts into personalized pillows … and along the way, Pillow Tees added premade pillows and Grizzlies/Memphis T-shirts to its product mix. Options and designs are available to view and order online.
We can’t wait to see all you SB Memphis fans around town in your stylin’ new tees. Don’t forget to stuff a few stockings with them, too. Go Grizz! #grizznation