A History of the Seattle Shirt Company

Owner: Jay Ashberg
Managers: Les Deets & Kari Hicks

Jay’s father, Al Ashberg, started selling T-Shirts and transfers out of his denim jeans store in downtown Kansas City, Kansas in 1978.  In 1989 he opened up his first store in Seattle at 6th and Pike while “chasing” the Final Four College Basketball Tournament and named the store Souvenir Shirts.  His son Jay, then a 24 year old young man, went to work for Al managing that store and in 1992 Al and Jay together opened their flagship store on the corner of 1st and Pike.  The name of the store was changed to what everyone now knows as the Seattle Shirt Company.

In 2002 Jay took a huge step and bought the business from his father.  Over the years various stores have opened and closed, among them were locations at 3rd and Pike, the Seattle Convention Center and another in Seattle’s Famous Pioneer Square.  In the middle of 2012, after 34 years of operating the business with mainly heat transfers, Jay decided to change business model and reinvent and reinvigorate the store. Jay decided to upgrade the store and change it to a store where shirts are already preprinted and ready for purchase, abandoning printing transfers onto T-Shirts in the store that had become the trademark of the business.  By the end of 2014 this proved to be a wise and successful move and the revenue at the 1st and Pike store more than doubled.

In 2013 Seattle Shirt Co. expanded and opened a 3,500 square foot store on Seattle’s Waterfront at Pier 55.  The store is a hit and equally as successful as the 1st and Pike store within the first year of operation.  The success of both stores is due largely to the strongly driven and dedicated Managers, Les Deets (Pike Street) and Kari Hicks (Pier 55).  Along with their leadership and expertise in the purchasing of product, the new preprint business model has led to a very successful formula.  Jay’s belief is that the secret to success is that the customers and the employees have to be happy.  If one of those elements is not in place then the success of the company will suffer.  The ultimate goal is to provide customers with a pleasant atmosphere to shop, along with very cool and interesting merchandise at a fair price.

In late 2014 Seattle Shirt Company expanded again to include a 3,000 square foot warehouse in the International District where all of the shirt printing is done and the preprinted shirts that we buy from other companies are kept.  Having an entirely separate warehouse location brought the business to a whole new level that helps us run even more efficiently.  Every step we take as a company is to bring us to a new level and provide the best products and best service to the tourists of Seattle.  Our company is excited that you have decided to join us and we know that together we are going to continue to be successful!

1st and Pike

Pier 55