By Carimé Lane
When it comes to T-shirt versus sweatshirt sales, T-Shirts come out on top at beach shops, according to retailers interviewed for this article.
Elayne Doliber, manager and buyer at the 500-square-foot Marblehead Outfitters in Marblehead, Mass., said this holds true at her shop, especially since they sell most of their product in the summer. “T-shirts sell better for us, although we do well with both crewneck and hoody sweatshirts. T-shirts work for almost everyone; who doesn’t wear a T-shirt,” expressed Doliber. “I also think tees are more affordable.”
Doliber said the store sells mostly blue and green T-shirts. “We buy other colors for pop and style, but those two colors outsell everything else,” she said.
To display sweatshirts effectively, Doliber explained they use wooden slatted walls with acrylic arms so the shirts can be displayed flat against the wall.
Nautical themed T-shirts and sweatshirts do well at the shop, said Doliber, since they are located in a coastal town. Also, images of striper fish (a local fish), whales, sailboats, schooners – and boats in general – all sell well at Marblehead.
Todd Graham, general manager at Acadia Shops, which range from 1,500-square-feet to 3,400-square-feet, said they definitely sell more T-shirts. Graham said it comes down to a couple of designs that do extremely well for them when they’re printed on T-shirts. One of these top-selling designs has the lettering Bar Habor paired with an American flag and a lobster.
“We can put [that design] on sweatshirts as well and we do, but it’s the T-shirt that really makes those sales climb above the others,” Graham said.
Graham said a mixture of hanging and folding works best for displaying sweatshirts. “When we fold them, we try to fold them so they’re nice and thick and fluffy and we get the best part of the image or the lettering to be on the fold so that you can see that from the shelf,” he explained.
As for T-shirt color, Graham said darker colors work best – in particular navy blue – because it looks “crisp and very rich” with their best-selling design.
At the Green Room, a 4,000-square-foot shop in Martha’s Vineyard, Elaine Barse, owner and founder explained that, while T-shirts and sweatshirts are not the main focus of her clothing shop, T-shirts are the better seller. “I think for us, T-shirts sell better because of the price point and the seasonality – we’re busier in the summertime.”
Barse suggested keeping items neatly folded and sized from small to large to make the display visually pleasing to customers, and to merchandise them with other types of products to give the display a lifestyle-like feel.
Color-wise, Barse finds men gravitate towards heather grey, given it’s a classic, traditional shirt color. On the other hand, women choose the color of their T-shirt by looking at how the design on the T-shirt interacts with the color. “Women like how everything works together,” she explained.
Designs that get a laugh for men and modern vintage designs for women sell well at The Green Room. “We have a design of the vineyards logo which is sort of a play on Miller High Life, called Vineyard Low Life, and it sells very well,” Barse said.
Hilarie Lally, co-founder/owner of Chappy Happy has opened a 500-square-foot brick and mortar summer shop in Edgartown, Mass. for the past three summers. She was inspired to build the brand because her late-father used to call her and say: “I wait all summer to get happy on Chappy!” before he and his friends would gather for their annual lobster bake on Chappaquiddick.
The designs that work best for them stick with that branding: “We have one [design] that says Chappy Happy with a smile on it and that seems to sell really well across the board for men, women and children, as does our standard Chappy Happy with the whale tail in the middle,” Lally said.
Another best-selling design features the island shape of Martha’s Vineyard in different types of fabric with Chappy Happy on the back neck of the sweatshirt.
Chappy Happy’s sales of T-shirts and sweatshirts are dictated by the season. In the summer, the T-shirts – which include scoop necks and V-necks for women – sell very well –and at Christmastime, sweatshirt sales go up.
Lally keeps sweatshirts sized and color coded on two shelves at one wall. She also favors hanging product. “I think people like to touch, feel, and take down [the product] and see how it would look on them.”
In addition, she wraps shirts up and places them in one of their market totes, for instance, or drapes a shirt over a bike basket.
Lally finds that men go for navy and grey colors – but they also gravitate towards turquoise-colored T-shirts. “For women, this year, I would say our biggest seller was our oatmeal colored shirt – it had this scoop neck and our logo in coral or navy. They were really soft and looked really flattering on women,” Lally said.
Cool as a Moose has stores in Brunswick, Portland and Bar Harbor.
“Since our stores are located in New England and are either on the coast or close to it, we really sell a mix [of T-shirts and sweatshirts] due to the ever-changing weather,” said Karen Gauer, buyer. “T-shirts will always be our number one sellers due to price points, however, we sell an amazing amount of long sleeved tees.”
When she displays sweatshirts, Gauer finds that hanging works best to showcase the designs, “along with layering the front shirt to add depth to the display. This also gives sales associates the chance to add on sales by recommending the layered pieces.”
Gauer also has tips for displaying folded sweatshirts: “Make sure a majority of the design can be seen along the fold. If possible, put one on a mannequin nearby. As always, adding a top selling T-shirt/sweatshirt to your window displays will grab your customers’ attention,” suggested Gauer.
By and large, Gauer finds dark greys to heathered blacks sell the best. “We think it is because those backgrounds make the designs we choose really pop. Also, because of the neutral color, they are easy to layer with most any color,” she said.
They also sell a lot of tie-died shirts because it pairs well with their logo. “We are seeing a ton of tie dye out in mainstream retail so we are excited to see it make a comeback,” Gauer said.
Of course, anything with the Cool As A Moose logo sells very well.
“Because of our geographic location, anything with moose, pine trees, lobsters, lighthouses, and waves works for us. There has been a trend in using these icons in artistic ways – rather than a straight up icon with namedrop – that has proven to be very popular.” ❖