CHAMPAIGN — When students return to Champaign-Urbana for the new school year, sales pick up at local T-shirt shops.
“It’s the busiest time of the year for us, for sure,” said Christine Maresh Nelson, manager at Weiskamp Screen Printing.
Weiskamp just finished printing about 8,000 Illini orange orientation T-shirts for the incoming freshmen, Maresh Nelson said.
“Every single freshman will get them,” she said.
Weiskamp’s two automatic and two manual screen printers are making about 2,000 imprints a day, Maresh Nelson said, running from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We are making shirts for K–12, elementary through high school, all the different sports and the teams, and just the welcome-back T’s,” she said. “A big, big bulk is just university departments preparing for the students’ return.”
And it’s not just incoming students receiving shirts.
“Staffing, too, for the university departments,” she said. “Making sure all the new staff has the right gear for the start of the year. Also Quad Day. Lots and lots of folks need their stuff for Quad Day that they’re giving away as promos trying to get folks interested in their different organizations.”
And when the University of Illinois orders T-shirts from Weiskamp, the shop doesn’t just use stock orange and blue.
“We actually do have Illini orange and Illini navy,” said Maresh Nelson. “It’s extremely close to the stock, but yeah, we have that pre-mixed year-round for U of I folks.”
Weiskamp, 312 S. Neil St., C., will help T-shirt makers with their designs, but Maresh Nelson said the UI usually handles their designs.
“The university has very strict guidelines, of course, so everything that comes to us from the university is approved through their design department,” she said.
While this is the busiest time of the year for Weiskamp, sales slow down during the winter, Maresh Nelson said.
“We stay pretty steady. There’s always the slow time of the year right after Christmas and through January and a little into February,” she said. “But we do embroidery as well, so in terms of like polos, coats, jackets, etc., that stays very, very busy during the winter.”
At the Gies College of Business, 600 shirts were ordered this year from Campus Ink in north Urbana to give to new students.
“We partner with many different vendors for our wearables, and Campus Ink has been a great partner for our freshmen shirts for several years,” Gies spokesman Aaron Bennett said.
At Te Shurt, 711 S. Wright St., C., owner Michele Fassett said it’s also busy now that students have returned.
“It’s been a good week with students coming back and everything. We are getting finished up with our orders for groups for Quad Day,” she said.
But she said it’s not necessarily the busiest time of year.
“Honestly, Unofficial (St. Patrick’s Day) is probably busier. And I’m super busy at sorority initiation time,” she said.
But she said any time during the school year is busier than the summer.
“We’re glad the students are back,” Fassett said. “It’s always a long ... summer in Champaign.”