The creative people at Giv’er Shirt Works on Second Avenue can turn your design, logo or idea into a t-shirt quicker than you could order a t-shirt online.
Kieran Summers opened the shop in 2003 when he realised the only way he could stay in Fernie was to start his own business.
“I came to Fernie from Ontario in 1995 and wanted to stay here so I needed a long term job, and figured opening my own business was a good idea. And I just figured T-shirts might work,” he said.
Giv’er started out in the Second Avenue shop where Heaven is now located and Kieran said he had no idea how successful it would be.
The shop moved next door a few years later, then this year moved to a much bigger location across the road.
“We needed more space,” said Kieran. “We have started doing embroidery and got a machine to do that, plus we needed space so we could start doing bigger orders.”
The embroidery machine means they can now also embroider designs onto hats and other garments, great for a higher quality look on company shirts.
Kieran hopes the business will start taking orders from outside the Elk Valley.
“We have the best of both worlds,” he said. “A business like this works really well in a ski town because of the tourist trade, but then we are busy all year round printing for local businesses.”
Kieran and the two other employees design and print the t-shirts by hand, making them unique to most other t-shirt shops, which send the shirts away to be done out of house.
“We have a lot of fun coming up with new designs,” he said. “We try to come up with new stuff each year to keep it fresh.”
However some designs are always a hit and keep coming back.
The most popular designs are “Trees Always Win” and “FU, Fernie University”.
Kieran said he doesn’t keep track of how many t-shirts they print each year, but he estimates around 40,000.
As well as t-shirts, Giv’er can print your design on to hoodies, baseball shirts, hats, flags, and practically everything else. “If you want something printed, we’ll give it a go and see if it works!” he said.
“We try to use American Apparel as our wholesaler for garments, because they are “sweat shop free”, meaning they pay a fair wage to their workers.”
“I think it’s a fun place to work,” he said. “It gets stressful at busy times, especially in the fall, but we want our staff to enjoy themselves. That’s why we all live in Fernie!”
He said one of the biggest perks of the job for his employees is that they close their shop when there has been significant snowfall overnight. “We don’t do the 20 cm rule, we have a 15 cm rule!” he said.