A Milwaukee Story

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Twenty-three years ago, we set out to improve the style and variety of wearables centered around the theme of “Milwaukee.” In 1986, to be honest, other than the “M…Great Place on a Great Lake” t-shirt, we had a tough time finding a single retailer who had the word “Milwaukee” on their products. Sure, there were products themed around the baseball team, football team, and colleges–but there was nothing out there which stood on Milwaukee alone.

So, we took a huge chance, and focused our entire business plan on Milwaukee–our companies, our events, our products, and our people. I distinctly remember an early customer, who burst out laughing in disbelief, “Hey honey, look at that, a t-shirt with MILWAUKEE on it!” However, we knew that Milwaukee had a lot to brag about, almost none of which was being depicted on products that actually went home with tourists, or were purchased by Milwaukee citizens.

This year, Milwaukee retail has hit a low point. Great local retailers are struggling to eek out the same sales figures they have in past years. We too, were met with challenges, especially as we developed our 2009 Spring line. Should we coast through the recession? Should we cut back on our innovation? Should we save some of our newest designs for next year?

We did nothing of the sort. Our design team created over 200 new conceptual Milwaukee designs for our 2009 Spring line. We wrote internal purchase orders for over 130 of them, and about 110 were actually printed and produced for our Brew City booth in the marketplace at Summerfest. We took a leap of faith that–despite economic challenges–pushing forward and ramping up our innovation was the right move for us.

Our sales at Summerfest were up, and thanks to you, so is our conviction for the future of Milwaukee. The energy you’re showing to us proves that there is a strong sense pride in our city, and a vision for our future. Tomorrow’s Milwaukee is here, and I think there are a lot of citizens who are sprinting out of the blocks to prove it.

We want to be a part of that future.

Frank / Brew City Brand / @brewcitybrand

2 Responses to “A Milwaukee Story”


  1. 1 milwaukee moments July 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Frank:
    I know what a brave move it is to order on faith alone. I applaud your courage and have always believed these actions are rewarded. Timidity should never win. (Did I just make up a word?)- k

  2. 2 Brian Artka July 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for this post Frank. Its enlightening to hear a business owner talk about innovating rather than hunkering down to “ride” through a storm.

    Your point about taking a chance is a big thing too. It seems that is not happening alot right now, and of course, its all blamed on the economy. Forty years ago, when we walked on the moon, people thought that was crazy… it would never happen. Well, it did, and one of the reasons was being innovative and taking a HUGE risk. We need to do more of this as individuals, businesses and human beings. There really is more to life than worrying about paying bills, insurance, 401K and “job security”.


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