After a trip to Atlanta where Bill Windsor saw hand-painted T-shirts in boutiques in Buckhead, he came up with the idea of a do-it-yourself hand-painted T-shirt. He wanted a catchy name, and ShirtCans was born. “You wear what we can.”
A variety of designs were offered. Each can contained a white T-shirt printed with a black outline design, four acrylic fabric paints, a paintbrush, and instructions. After a test at local K-Mart stores, Bill flew to New York and wore out the soles on a pair of shoes walking all over town to make sales calls on apparel buyers. Then he flew to Chicago where he received a large test order from Sears.
Bill returned to Orlando very excited, and he opened a manufacturing facility at 119 W. Kaley Boulevard in Orlando. Business #10.
In addition to manufacturing and distributing ShirtcCans to retail chains, the product was also offered to the advertising specialty industry and to premium companies.
Rich Sarver was the talented artist who created the designs for the ShirtCans and the labels and promotional material. Incredibly talented!
After several years as a retailer, screen printer, and manufacturer, Bill Windsor launched a company to distribute apparel products to the advertising specialty industry. The business was called The Shirt Tale. Business #11.
The Shirt Tale had beautiful catalogs to promote its line of imprinted sportswear, heat transfers, and related products.
Bill Windsor published a book titled “How To Sell T-shirts.”
Bill and Barbara began exhibiting at advertising specialty trade shows.
Bill met people like Robert Grant, who signed a contract to distribute Bill’s products in Belgium and France.
The Wear-House expanded to a 6,000-square-foot store in Winter Park, Florida.
Bill divided the 6,000-square-foot space into a 4,000-square-foot retail space, a 1,500-square-foot screen printing shop, and a 500-square-foot office.
It was a big freestanding building on Highway 17-92 in Winter Park, just South of Fairbanks Avenue.
The Wear-House staff at the grand opening party.
The building was located right next door to McDonald’s.
Bill decided he should try to attract the customers from McDonald’s. He cut a window and door to the McDonald’s parking lot, but it appeared to be tiny on the 120-foot long building.
So, Bill had Rich Sarver create some cartoon characters wearing imprinted sportswear.
The characters were 10-feet tall, but the mural still seemed really small.
Bill had Rich Sarver continue to create characters. Rich painted the outline of the art on the wall, and people were invited to come paint. When it was done, the 120-foot x 10-foot mural became the World’s Largest Cartoon Mural. And most of the customers for The Wear-House came in from the door next to McDonald’s parking lot.
After a year off the busy Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, Bill was able to convince wealthy orange grove owner and real estate owner, Jerry Chicone, to rent him a 1,600-square-foot store at 435 Park Avenue South. The impact was a huge increase in retail sales.
With this move, Bill acquired an advertising specialties business from Tom Bonneville and expanded it into a retail operation. Bill sold over 100,000 items that could be personalized for businesses, clubs, and more. Business #9.
Bill’s biggest advertising specialties client was Disney. Bill sold all of the Do Not Disturb signs and shower caps used in the original hotels at Walt Disney World.
To expand on Park Avenue, Bill needed some money. With the support of dear old Dad, Bill borrowed $10,000 from Sun First National Bank. He did manage to repay it.
A fabulous cartoonist, West Reid, did the artwork for The Wear-House.
The business had a number of products that schools could sell for fundraising projects.
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When Bill Windsor and Barbara moved to Florida from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Bill opened a store in Winter Park, Florida named The Wear-House. Business #7.
The Wear-House was an expanded version of the retail store he opened as a college student at Texas Tech.
Bill and Barbara sold a full line of fraternity and sorority merchandise, but they also had a heat transfer machine and sold imprinted T-shirts, customized while the customer was there.
We didn’t have much money, so our decor consisted of free pickle barrels and orange crates obtained from local restaurants and fruit stands. The wall decor was for sale. We didn’t have a good location, just off busy Park Avenue. We survived because I was selling to fraternities and sororities all over Central Florida.