A lot of businesses sell T-shirts with their name on them. A select few sell T-shirts with their name on them that people actually want to wear. These shirts let you represent your city, even when you’re out of town, or you can send one along as a gift to a local who moved away and misses old haunts.
Clothe a torso and support a local business at the same time. Win-win.
It’s hard to beat the Bricks’ original T-shirt featuring a sketch of an anthropomorphized beer can carrying a skateboard, but their urban flamingo shirt evoking a neon sign on a black background might do it. The restaurant and arts space in a brick building on Ybor City’s Seventh Avenue is partly owned by the owner of Skatepark of Tampa and partners with the skate shop to sell its merch. Or you can visit the restaurant. $20 at 1327 E Seventh Ave., Tampa, or thebricksybor.com/merch/.
It’s simple. It’s collegiate. And most importantly, it has an alligator on it. The Seminole Heights coffee roaster, bar and beer brewer serving food in a former garage on Floribraska Avenue has several shirts available, including some nice long-sleeve ones, as well as bags of fresh roasted coffee beans available in its web store or in person. $25 at 520 E Floribraska Ave., Tampa, or shop.king-state.com.
Manatees are mellow. Bagels are delicious and comforting. Combining both of them on a T-shirt might channel the peacefulness of a no-rush weekend breakfast trip to this corner store and bagel shop across from Round Lake in St. Petersburg’s Historic Uptown neighborhood. They have a couple of options, both in blue and white, and the manatee bagel logo also comes on hats, pint glasses, tote bags and stickers. $22 at petesgeneral.com or 495 Seventh Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
Valhalla Bakery makes delicious vegan baked goods, but their “big cake energy” shirt will make you look like the snack. The shirts are available in the shop. $25 at 2462 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
The vegan deli in Gulfport has a great name. The uninitiated will see your shirt and think it’s a band tee. But those who have tasted the restaurant’s glorious “Cowboy Dan” sandwich will nod at you knowingly. In all honesty, all their T-shirt designs are great, and they have bandannas that you can use as masks, too. $20 at goldendinosaurs.com or 2930 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport.
Coppertail Brewing has the best labels. The “C monster” sea monster logo is unmistakable, and their intricate labels (designed by Evan Harris) for individual brews are playful and clever, but with a sort of mystical gravitas. And the designs all come on shirts (as well as coasters, glasses and hats). The basic logo T-shirt is clean, but the Free Dive IPA shirt featuring a diver with a lobster on his head is a solid pick, too. You can get them at the brewery or online. $26 at coppertailbrewing.com/shop or 2601 E Second Ave., Tampa.
Mojo Books & Records
The eye-reading-a-book logo for this beloved used books and records store and coffeehouse near the University of South Florida is distinctive, unique and a conversation starter, especially if you run into someone who went to USF. They’re available in an array of colors, and while you’re there you can browse gift items like toys, literary-themed candles and portable record players. $8.99 at 2540 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.
Grove Surf + Coffee
This ultra-chill, clean and crisp-feeling coffee shop and retail space by the beach sells surf-themed apparel (shorts, tees and swimsuits) and accessories alongside toasted coconut lattes and snacks. They only just recently added their own Grove tees featuring a surfer seagull, the Sunshine Skyway and a skeleton lounging in a cup of coffee. The photographs show the men’s version, but they come as women’s tees as well. $25 at 7370 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach.
Everyone loves a good dive bar T-shirt, and this tiny dive bar in Tampa’s SoHo neighborhood has a shirt that is not slick in any way, and that’s what’s cool about it. You can get a new one, but the ’80s-ish design will give it a vintage feel even before you break it in while sipping cheap draft beer and shooting pool on the coin-operated billiards table. It usually comes in blue, red, black and white. They also sell a T-shirt featuring Miss Lita, their late, longtime bartender, with her favorite sayings listed on the back. Keeping to the true dive bar ethos, the Tiny Tap shirt is also cheaper than most on the list at only $15. 2105 W Morrison Ave., Tampa.
The Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters now has six “speakeasy inspired” locations in Tampa. Their logo tees were popular from the start. Crew neck tees come in “Soho,” “Seminole Heights” or “Ybor” varieties, and in several colors. There are also tank tops, and a dolman-style T-shirt (pictured above), which is a sort of slouchy and flattering cut with a wider neck. $28 at blindtigercafe.com/shop-home/ or the Ybor, Seminole Heights or Soho locations.
The massive record store founded in 1977 has a new logo. And it looks pretty good on a shirt. $20 at bananasrecords.com/shop/apparel or 2887 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
Old Southeast Market
This neighborhood market is a great spot to pick up beer, wine, snacks, locally made natural deodorant, a freshly made sushi burrito or an “I Climbed Thrill Hill” bumper sticker. They carry a full selection of locally themed T-shirts right next to the fresh bread, including the popular “It’s my way or the Skyway” design by Wide Sky, but their shop’s branded tee is pretty sweet, too. $25 at 1700 Third St. S, St. Petersburg.
City Bike Tampa
City Bike Tampa’s logo tee features “Macey the Guard Dog.” Macey is gone now, “but she came to work with me and was in the shop every day for about seven years,” said owner Kevin Craft. “We had people come by all the time just to play with her, and she was always more popular than any of us were. We jokingly called her Macey the Guard Dog, and she even won a Best of the Bay a few years back for Best Shop Dog (and worst guard dog).” Cute story, good shirt. $25 in the shop at 208 E Cass St., Tampa.