Fans of local – very local – sports teams in Kent have a new place to go to shop for clothes.
Kent Sportswear opened in late July, according to co-owner and manager Justin Heiser, just in time for the Wizardly World of Kent, helping the business get off to a good start.
The new store is located at 125 S. Water St. at the corner of Burbick Way and South Water Street. Heiser, whose partner is local businessman Mike Beder, said the store carries official Kent State University apparel.
“We’re just providing a service with the Kent State appeal and pushing the Kent State brand locally,” he said. “It’s not really something you can see anywhere else in town.”
He said the store fills the niche left when Campus Book & Supply closed around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This store was located on Lincoln Street just off Route 59.
In addition to Kent State gear of all kinds, the store also carries designs that Heiser helped create and various Kent Roosevelt gear.
“We have kids’ shirts, adult shirts, and sweatshirts,” he said.
A variety of items for sale are Heiser creations.
“We also try to do a lot of Kent pride stuff,” he said, including black squirrels and other designs that reference the town of Kent.
“We pretty much do everything in-house when it comes to design,” Heiser said. “It’s been a huge challenge with all the supply lines shut down. Only blank T-shirts are hard to come by.”
Another challenge for the company is that its sign is not yet installed. It was recently approved and should be installed later this week, according to Heiser.
He also said Beder plans to appeal a recent decision by the Kent Architectural Review Board against Kent State’s blue and yellow exterior paint on the building’s woodwork.
Heiser said the installation of the sign should help attract walk-in traffic, as well as returning students to Kent State next week.
He plans to hire about half a dozen Kent State students to help with the store.
“We try to bring in interns who can do design and marketing work to stay connected to the university,” he said.
Heiser, who worked at UniversiTees in Kent and other retail stores in the area, used Inkscape to design shirts, sweatshirts, hats and other clothing, a process he learned alone with the help of YouTube.
Do you have a business or healthcare story you’d like to share? Journalist Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] and @bobgaetjens_rc.