Employees are Givin'Er at Giv'Er Shirt Works

The Giv
The Giv'Er Shirt Works employees stand by their merchandise. From left; Jade Berry, Kieran Summers, Drew Hampson and Scottie McKee.
— image credit: K. Dingman

No one can deny that the Elk Valley hosts a lot of events.

From triathlons and Summer Socials to craft fairs and farmers markets, the events never seem to end.

And a lot of these events require custom made t-shirts.

“Everybody needs shirts,” Giv’Er Shirt Works owner Kieran Summers said.

“There’s definitely a niche for a screen printing shop in every town.”

Summers opened Giv’Er in 2003, and although he didn’t have any prior retail experience, the store quickly gained customers.

“Everybody’s really supportive of your business,” Summers said.

“I grew up in a small town so the small town feel is perfect for me.

But support from the community wasn’t all the t-shirt shop needed to succeed.

Summer said that during the stores first winter, he only took six days off.

“I decided to go for it. It’s been a lot of hard work, figuring it all out, lots of hours,” he said.

When he first moved to Fernie is 1995, Summer said he began bartending in order to support his ‘ski bum’ lifestyle.

But after a few years, when he made the decision to stay in Fernie, he began brainstorming business ideas.

And when Summers opened the store over a decade ago, he wanted to do something different, something that would separate his store from typical t-shirt shops.

“Very rarely do people have a retail shop that they print shirts for,” he said.

“All our designs are unique. We try to make fun designs that are geared specifically towards Fernie.”

Summers said a large majority of t-shirt stores use stock designs.

But, apart from the adorable animal face shirts, all the t-shirts in Giv’Er Shirt Works are designed by the employees and cater to Fernie’s lifestyle.

“You can’t buy it anywhere else,” Summers noted.

And although Giv’Er Shirt Works storefront is filled with costumed designed t-shirts with images of bears, biking and mountains, Summers said the majority of their sales come from event merchandise.

In fact the store recently printed 1700 shirts for the Sinister 7 Ultra Race.

And that kind of bulk printing, prior to this year, would have taken the store a week to complete, Summers said.

“We just kind of made a really big investment in the business to upgrade our equipment.”

“It’s been a real game changer for us. We can compete with any shop in Calgary or Vancouver.”

Included in the new equipment is an automatic screen printing press, which gives the store the ability to print up to 600 shirts per hour with up to seven colors on each shirt.

Summers said that because the store gears their focus on event merchandise, they no longer accommodate individual t-shirt design requests.

“They’re really labor intensive,” he said.

“We’re kind of hoping all our customers understand.”

But Summers said that he’s confident the store will continue to succeed despite this recent change.

And with loyal customers like the Ghost Riders, Fernie Alpine Resort and Teck, it seems unlikely that this will affect the stores sales at all.

As for plans to expand the store, Summers said they want to continue to grow at a sustainable pace.

“We want to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said.








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