He wears his '80s pride every day
Maybe you wear your '80s geekdom proudly, but probably no more so than Kevin Stecko.
Meet the guy behind 80stees.com, the Web site that provides all those '80s-era T-shirts that are quickly filling up your dresser drawers. (I'm particularly fond of my "flux capacitor" shirt from Back to the Future.)
Stecko recently took time out from selling T-shirts featuring phrases like "Sweep the Leg!" and "Save Ferris" to answer a few questions from Stuck in the '80s:
SIT80s: So can we assume there's a really interesting start to your business?
Stecko: "I was proud owner of a He-Man T-shirt, which I bought at a store in State College, Pa. In the summer of 1999, I wore the He-Man shirt to an amusement park in Pittsburgh called Kennywood. After numerous people asked me where I got my shirt, I went back and made a deal with the shop owner to get some bulk pricing, and I started selling on eBay, and soon afterward, the 80stees.com Web site."
SIT80s: It's gotta be hard explaining your idea to business partners and lenders.
Stecko: "The fact that an entire business with 20-plus employees can thrive selling only '80s T-shirts is something many people can't wrap their heads around, but to our customers, the concept makes perfect sense. The beauty of the Web is that your community or audience has nothing to do with your geography, so throughout the world there are many people who love the shirts we sell."
SIT80s: Were you a child of the '80s?
Stecko: "I was born in 1977, so I definitely came of age in the '80s. I think I have always had an appreciation for it. But the vision of the '80s to someone my age is different than someone 10 years older than me who would have been a teenager during the '80s, or to the person who was in their 20s during the '80s. I get told lots of times that the '80s were 'my decade' by so many people, and they are all different ages."
SIT80s: What were the first products sold from your Web site?
Stecko: "They were He-Man, Transformers and ThunderCats T-shirts. Early on, our selections were heavy on the cartoons."
SIT80s: What are people really buying tons of now?
Stecko: "Guys really like Top Gun, Ferris Bueller, Nintendo and Karate Kid. For the women it's Dirty Dancing, New Kids on the Block, Smurfs and the Mr. Men and the Little Miss characters."
SIT80s: So it 80stees.com stuck in the '80s? Or do you lower yourself to offer products from lesser decades?
Stecko: "We actually offer a whole bunch of non-'80s items, some of the more popular items are Big Lebowski, Power Rangers, X-Files, The Office, Dodgeball (the movie), stuff along those lines. There aren't any immediate plans to open other decade-themed sites. I consider myself an expert on the '80s but not so much on other decades."