By RACHEL BRANT
The USS Nebraska basketball team needed T-shirts made and they needed them done fast.
Thankfully, T-Shirt Factory next to JCPenney in Kitsap Mall in Silverdale was able to quickly create their red T-shirts before an upcoming game.
Dave and Carleen Rackley opened the T-Shirt Factory in November. The couple had another T-shirt business years ago in Albuquerque, N.M., but Carleen decided the time was right to open another store.
“Carleen has been wanting to get back in the T-shirt business for 23 years,” Dave said. “Fortunately the mall world is looking again at small retail stores.”
Dave owns a civil construction company, so the Rackleys frequently move from town to town, but have settled in Poulsbo for the time being and hope to stay for a few years.
“Our kids were all raised here in the Pacific Northwest, so our family’s here,” Dave said. “We’ve been in and out for many years.”
T-Shirt Factory creates custom T-shirts and sweatshirts for infants, children and adults of all shapes and sizes. The business also creates mousepads, coasters and mugs.
“We’re able to put all kinds of graphics on stuff,” Dave said. “We’re able to create just about anything for customers.”
T-Shirt Factory uses a computer program to design T-shirts, then prints the graphic on special, stretchy paper. Heat is applied to the graphic and T-shirt and less than 10 minutes later, the customized T-shirt is done.
“It doesn’t take any time at all,” Dave said. “Our primary process is a dye process. We’re doing something totally different than anybody anywhere that I know of.”
Aside from cotton T-shirts, the stretchy paper can be used on spandex as well.
“We can put this on spandex,” Dave said. “It’s really a remarkable product.”
T-Shirt Factory was busy at Christmastime with customers wanting to make T-shirts with personal photos and custom graphics on them. Since it has been more than 20 years since the Rackleys owned their first T-shirt business, Carleen said the Christmas rush was a great refresher.
“We learned so much. We had a crash course,” Carleen said.
Dave said he and his wife enjoy working with customers to create that special T-shirt. Carleen said many customers do not hesitate to jump behind the counter and watch her create the T-shirt on the computer.
“We enjoy that because we want our people to get involved in it,” Dave said.
Dave said T-Shirt Factory’s niche is smaller orders such as people looking to create only a few shirts, but they can do larger orders as well within three to four days.
“We can print one or 1,000 at pretty much the same cost,” Dave said.
Dave and Carleen traveled to Long Beach, Calif. this past weekend to attend a T-shirt convention to learn new ways to create quality products. Dave said the process is very simple, but there is always something new to learn.
“It’s really very simple as you get into it,” Dave said. “It becomes simpler and simpler everyday.”
Although T-Shirt Factory has only been open for a couple months, Carleen said she has already had several customers returning to create more T-shirts.
“That’s what we wanted, our customers to return and be happy,” she said.
T-Shirt Factory may relocate to another space inside Kitsap Mall, but the Rackleys think the move could only draw more customers to their business.