About The Queensboro Shirt Company
The Queenboro Shirt Company was started as a hobby when I was a college student in the late 1970s and early 1980s in New York City.
At the time, "Preppy" was "in". The Lacoste "Alligator" shirt was at the height of its popularity, and Ralph Lauren had just started Polo and had just begun putting his little polo player guy on shirts. This was essentially the first time that anything other than an Alligator or Country Club logo was ever put on a polo shirt.
Now I never considered myself "Preppy", and was certainly never comfortable being labeled as such. I did love those original Lacoste shirts though! I had been wearing them all my life and couldn't find anything else that came close to the comfort and durability those shirts provided.
It was a remarkable thing. It always felt good to put on a Lacoste shirt. The best thing was taking one straight out of the dryer, but these shirts were so good, they even felt good if they had been lying around on the floor for a couple of days, which was generally more often the state of my wardrobe in those days!
As the preppy phenomenon raged, however, a disturbing thing happened to my beloved shirt. Whereas for years I could even wear the same shirt for several days in a row and nobody seemed to notice, all of a sudden people started taking note and commenting on the alligator. "Who do you think you are?" they would imply with their words and looks. "Are you part of that group?"
Well that made me pretty uncomfortable, and I was one of the ones that tried taking the alligators off my shirts. To Lacoste's credit, however, they figured out how to put that thing on there so there was no way you could take it off without putting a hole in the shirt, and soon even wearing a shirt with a little hole in it was looked upon as being contrived!
As you could imagine, this was all very depressing to me. "Wouldn't it be great," I thought, "if you could get the same great quality shirt as the original French Lacoste shirt" (by this time, an inferior American version was already prevalent) "with any logo or design a person wanted?"
Well, in those days, anything was better than studying. So I started poking around a bit and was able to basically get some Lacoste shirts without the alligators, and find an embroiderer that could put different logos on the shirts.
Our first customers were some school groups and a few teams in a city squash league of banks and brokerage firms. Well, all those first shirts were gobbled up quickly, and it was pretty clear from the beginning that if the quality was there, and the price kept reasonable, there would never be any trouble getting customers!
Well, with 25 years of hindsight, constantly controlling quality and costs in a growing business has certainly been easier said than done! It is actually quite amusing, however, to look back and see how simple it all seemed at the time!
I was having fun, though, and figured I'd stick with it until I hit a wall I couldn't get over, or something better captured my imagination. In the meantime, I somehow managed to get into business school, so I had another couple of years before I needed to get too serious about life.
In business school, while my classmates were making contacts and going on interviews, I was selling shirts in the lobby of the business school building.
As the end of business school neared, and inertia and convention compelled me to get a suit and try to get a job, I was faced with the task of putting together a resume without anything in the way of job experience to put on it.
Having managed to stay awake through a few marketing classes, however, I somehow managed to grasp the concept of "The Big Idea". My resume, therefore, was an exercise in this concept. "The Big Idea" in this case being my fledgling shirt enterprise.
Well, this was one business school assignment that I passed with flying colors, for I did such a good job puffing up my company, not only did I convince any potential employers that what I currently had going was so far superior to anything they had to offer me, I basically convinced myself of the same thing!
So upon graduating from business school, not having received a single job offer, I decided that what I really wanted to do was be in the shirt business full time.
The first few years were interesting, to say the least. I had chosen early on, a path of direct sales through advertisements and mailings, over personal face-to-face sales or selling through stores. Though there have been many opportunities to grow the business much more quickly than it has grown, I have never wavered from my commitment to making a superior quality product and establishing direct relationships with our customers. To this day, this is the fundamental basis of our business. So there I was in 1983, a business school graduate, working in my pajamas in my small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, slowly, but surely, building a business.
Through gradual increases in the number and places of my small advertisements, along with the reorders that started to come in, the business started to grow, and all kinds of new challenges developed. It didn't take long to outgrow my apartment, and over the next 12 years, I moved another 5 times, the last of which was in 1995 when we moved out of New York to Wilmington, North Carolina.
We have been in Wilmington for 12 years now, and have finally been able to assemble a group of committed long term employees that have signed on to my vision of what I hope Queensboro can become.
And while this has eased some of the burden of the daily logistics of getting the orders processed and shipped, I have found the challenge of the last few years of essentially transforming from an entrepreneur to manager just as challenging and exciting.
In particular, in the past few years, I have been able to focus much more intently on team building, which I have always enjoyed; product development, which is really my first love; and marketing - which is the arena in which the real game of business is played. And of course there are the technology issues, which have been a real education for all of us who went to school in an earlier era. But as they say, everyday you learn something new, you are better off when you go to sleep than you were when you woke up in the morning!
My dedication to our customers and product quality, however, has only grown over time. 23 years ago, we were the first company in the world to offer custom-embroidered, high-quality shirts and apparel in small quantities. Today, this is a common service.
Our business model, however, is still unique. We sell our own brand of shirts, directly to you. We do not sell through stores through salespeople, but directly, eliminating as many middle "people" as possible in the process. Because of this, we can offer a superior quality product at a very reasonable price.
We work really hard to make and keep our customers happy! This is something that everyone talks about, but the only way we can prove it to you is just by doing it. I have always made myself available to any customer and any employee at any time, and for 25 years have done what is necessary to resolve any issues or problems expeditiously and fairly.
I am not the smartest guy in the world, but I am smart enough to know we make great products and work very hard for our customers. Yes, you can find a cheaper shirt, but you will not find a better one, or a company that will work harder to make you happy, and keep you happy, for a long, long time. Along with my family, my passion in life is great quality shirts, and finding new ways to deliver them to you better than anyone else. Let me put this passion to work for you. As always, please feel free to call, write, or email if you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions on how we can improve.
We look forward to working with you for many years to come!
Fred Meyers, Chairman and Founder
The Queensboro Shirt Company
1400 Marstellar St.
Wilmington, NC 28401