This effort amounts to a proverbial toe in the water, which is progress considering that last year I never broke through the ice.
For the 2015 holiday season, I attempted to sell U.S.-made T-shirts bearing the logo of Pennsylvania Puck, my short-lived online hockey magazine that survives as a Facebook page.
Perhaps people didn’t want to wait for their made-to-order shirts or, more likely, they just weren’t inspired to act, but I only sold one shirt. I refunded the customer’s money and mothballed that idea.
However, I am nothing if not persistent. This holiday season, I’m back with a couple of Hershey-branded products that should have broader appeal. At the very least, they are in stock, available for purchase.
Both years’ efforts betray a common theme: my passion for the people and businesses that are committed to making products in the good ol’ US of A. I’ve highlighted nearly 70 companies in recent years, and I’ve bought many of their products, from baseball hats and blue jeans to lawn chairs and leather wallets.
But I didn’t want to be a mere consumer, I wanted to offer a couple of my own U.S.-made items. The process could not have been simpler nor more satisfying. Both items were conceived, produced and in my hands within one month.
I can’t remember how I came across Oxford Pennant in Buffalo, N.Y., but I featured the company in this post. Even with my smallish 50-pennant order, Oxford co-owner Dave Horesh was enthusiastic throughout the process; we even bonded over a shared fondness for Paula’s Donuts.
In Hershey, the street signs marking the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues are iconic, but they’ve been missing for a couple of years. Inexplicably, Hershey Co. asked Derry Township to remove them, as I wrote in this post.
The signs get a new life on our felt pennant, which measures 7 inches by 21 inches. The retro design, inspired by a book of matches from the old Cocoa Inn (it stood at the intersection until it was torn down in December 1970), is maroon with cream band and ties and cream ink.
Two days after I contacted Horesh, I spoke with Steven Arenzon, owner of Wisconsin Knitwear in Milwaukee. I found the company, which dates to 1979, through the band Wilco’s online store, which identified Wisconsin Knitwear as the maker of this beauty.
Not only are knit hats great for this time of year, they are one-size-fits-all, hence a lot less complicated than stocking, say, PA Puck T-shirts from small to XXL.
Around our kitchen table, my wife, Sara, and son, Jack, helped me design this heavyweight hat with a deluxe ribbed cuff using the colors favored by Hershey’s school teams. One day after my call with Arenzon, I emailed him my specifications (base color navy, thin stripes white, etc.). He sent me a PDF showing me how HERSHEY would appear in one-inch letters, front and back.
I took delivery just a little more than three weeks later. And a little more than a week after that, my friend and fellow Hershey resident Sun Mullins wore one of the hats to Wrigley Field, where she attended Game 4 of the World Series.
The host Chicago Cubs lost that night but then won three straight games to capture the club’s first championship in 108 years. Clearly, the Hershey hat had something to do with it.
Did I tell you the hat and pennant make great Christmas gifts?
They’re $20 each. You can order from my Facebook page or, if you’re in the Hershey area, call me at 717-350-1568.
Like Santa, I deliver.