Issue: January/February 2013
Three Questions with Tony Madalone
Fresh Brewed Tees
Tony Madalone has been serving sports-themed T-shirts online for three years and opened his first holiday-season store at SouthPark Mall in November. Next, he’ll borrow a page from Cleveland’s popular food truck scene and take his wares to the streets. But in order to prowl downtown freely, Madalone’s T-shirt truck will need the help of city council, which gave food trucks the right in 2011. Ward 3 councilman Joe Cimperman says he supports the idea and hopes to win approval for it in early 2013.
1. Why a T-shirt truck and not a downtown storefront?
I was looking at retail stores downtown, and I decided I wanted to do something a little different. I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to sign long term, and Cleveland foot traffic is not always great. We’ll be able to go to events and stuff like that: Cavs, Indians, Browns games, concerts, festivals.
2. What do you see as the truck’s biggest advantage?
Marketability. It’s unique. It also provides an opportunity for sponsorship. You can’t really sell sponsorships for your store. One sponsor is Wireless Zone out of Steelyard Commons, so [the truck] is going to be a [Wi-Fi] hotspot as well. … It’s more effective, for one, because it’s on wheels. Not only is it a store [that] can move, it’s also a giant billboard. Even when I’m driving through the city, it’s going to be branded with Fresh Brewed Tees all over it. People are going to see us.
3. Have there been successful examples in other cities?
The main one is called Cookies N Cream. It’s a T-shirt company in New York, and I read an article in 2010 in Entrepreneur Magazine that followed them. It was so successful that they opened a second truck. And Nike picked up on it and made a truck two summers in a row, just selling shoes and T-shirts. This has been done. It’s been successful.
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