Tacomans wear their T-Town pride on their chests. And their foreheads, and their jammies, and, if they are fresh babies, on their adorable little butts. Now it’s getting easier for them to wear their 253 hearts in all the same places. Steve Naccarato, keeper of the 253 heart logo, has opened a new restaurant, Shake Shake Shake, and he’s trusted his heart to Gail and Pat Ringrose of T-Town Apparel. That’ll make it a lot easier for grit-crazed Tacomans to buy their gear. Naccarato ran the bulk of his retail business online, with occasional open shop days at his condo. The model tested the resolve of customers who like to touch what they’re about to buy. The Ringroses run a fine online operation, too. But they’re all brick-and-mortar at 934 Market St. They have their embroidery and screen print operations in the back, and their shop next to the business office in front. Contract work makes up 90 percent of their trade, Gail said. But the Tacoma 10 percent turned out to be the fun part. “Our logo is 10 years old,” she said. “It was created for this business without thought to a retail area.” When Tacomans got a look at that logo – the old-fashioned T with “Town” inside – they got door-knocking stubborn about demanding it on stuff they can wear or stick to their cars. “Seeing people come in here, and the pride they have in this city, it’s just nuts,” Pat said.
They buy the T-shirts, hats and hoodies for themselves. “They buy them for overseas exchange students, for out-of-town family, for the military,” Gail said. “It’s very rewarding when you see it.” And it’s about time. The Ringroses post new items on their Facebook page, and the next thing they know, they have walk-ins. “Now we have our baby line, ‘Created in Tacoma for Tacoma,’” Gail said. “We were closed, and customers who wanted it were knocking on the window.” The top seller, she said, is the $12 onesie with the T-Town logo on the front and “Tacoma Aroma” on the seat. Those onesies are snuggling up against 253 heart pajama bottoms, with the optional matching tops. Now Naccarato’s interested in developing more items for the Ringroses to manufacture. “I’ve been wanting to offload the apparel side,” he said. “It was just languishing. They do great work. They’re very creative and bring bright ideas to the table.” This month, they’ve stocked up on bright ideas they’d like to bring to Christmas stockings wherever Tacoma Pride arises. There is the $24 next-generation power decal, which lights up when the vehicle’s engine is running. “They started out on ‘Shark Tank,’” Pat said of the idea that took off from a reality show. The Dome, and all the other landmarks, are lasered into a $25 boxed set of wooden coasters, and printed on a $20 deck of playing cards. There are the traditional beanies and ball caps and the T-Town dome hoodies. “People want us to paint the T-Town logo on the actual Dome,” Pat said. “We’d have to sneak up there and do it, then paint the 253 heart on the other side.” Let us know when, Pat. We’ll carry the paint cans. We’re that proud.