After experiencing 14 years as a U.S. Army combat soldier in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sumter resident Joseph Davies says he’s proud to be an American. He’s also proud because today his new business, Jersey Joe’s Custom Apparel, is opening in downtown Sumter.
A New Jersey native – hence the name, “Jersey Joe’s,” – Davies says he’s grateful for the time he served his country overseas in direct combat and the numerous humanitarian efforts performed with indigent populations in the Middle East. He says his new business venture is a small thing he can do for a country that has given him so much.
The custom apparel store – at 130-A S. Main St. and across the street from Central Carolina Technical College’s Health Sciences Center – does direct-to-garment printing using computerized machinery, according to Davies. The business is different from screen printing, he says, in that at Jersey Joe’s, employees do the custom apparel on the spot for customers with no wait time, no minimum orders and no color limitations.
The way the process works is this: Customers walk in the store, pick out an image on file – or supply their own artwork that can be put on a file – then pick out a T-shirt, hoodie, pair of canvas tennis shoes or other item from Jersey Joe’s inventory and have it printed right there for them. Simple as that and in and out usually in a matter of minutes, according to Davies.
“My motto is you’re only limited to your imagination, and our goal is for customers to have instant gratification,” Davies said earlier this week as he was prepping for today’s opening.
He says he has about 3,000 images on file at the store – “everything from what you would want your daughter to wear to the oldest biker.”
Customers can pick and choose from as many images and colors as they want, and no pixelation is involved, according to Davies.
“You get what you want and – not just that – but we have people here who are going to help you with it,” Davies said. “So, it’s not about coming in and getting a T-shirt; it’s about coming in and the experience of creating what you want, picking the colors and getting to design it. Then, you actually leave with it, so there’s no wait time. You’re walking out with what you just designed.”
According to Davies, Jersey Joe’s T-shirts start at $10, plus sales tax. For a high-quality T-shirt with a detailed and colorful image, customers can expect to pay about $20 to $25, he said.
As far as T-shirts, Davies carries major brands including Hanes, Champion, Next Level and Lowcountry. Other items in stock include canvas tennis shoes, bandannas, and scrubs for health care workers, among other garments from head to toe.
He also makes sure to mention that sparkle emoji T-shirts are available for kids.
Davies moved to Sumter in 2011 in a transfer to Shaw Air Force Base with Third Army (USARCENT). He medically retired from the Army in 2014.
He says he has about two years’ experience in the direct-to-garment printing business – everything from learning the graphic arts and machines to working for a retail store in Columbia for about a year.
According to Davies, Jersey Joe’s website – www.jerseyjoescustomapparel.com – will feature videos on the process of how direct-to-garment printing is done, and customers will also be able to shop from the website. Davies said he and his staff will deliver locally and ship the out-of-town orders.
A kiosk is also available for customers to personally sit at a computer and make their own selections, and then a Jersey Joe’s employee can print it there at the store while the customer is waiting.
He says he offers a 10-percent discount to active-duty military, their families and military retirees.
Davies said he’s also had a strong sense of pride to be an American, but after his military service, he now has an even better perspective.
“Now, I better understand just how fortunate I am to live in America,” Davis said. “This store is possible because I am an American.”