What is the background of Camel City Goods, and how long have you been operating?
We launched Camel City Goods in 2012. It was an experiment. Basically we wanted to see if people in Winston-Salem would be willing to represent their city. That was the challenge. To find out if that would work, and how people would respond to it. We rolled out 6 t-shirts over the course of a couple of months, those becoming our core collection. We got a great response from people and decided to keep on adding designs. Soon we took the lobby of our studio, Airtype Studio, and turned it into an offshoot store of Airtype. Airtype is our agency where we do all of the designs for the merchandise that you see in the store. We are a full interactive agency, we do branding, marketing, web design development, social media, and more. All of the Camel City Goods work is done in our studio. The lobby of our agency was never meant to be a storefront because it is pretty small, but for the first 3 years we had the brand, we primarily sold it in that space. Camel City Goods kept growing, and we eventually renovated a historic building that was next door on Brookstown Avenue. This gave us a much larger space for the storefront that we were able to expand into, and actually have a dedicated space just for the shop. We ended up opening a mall shop temporarily to get the word out, because historically it was difficult to get people downtown. We did that for a couple of years, as well as took on various initiatives, social advertising, TV ads, Billboards, and a stream of charitable causes to get the word out. We tried to build something slow and steady, which is the way Winston’s growth is. It is not overnight, the development, redevelopment, and rehabilitation of the city is a process. We looked at building our brand the same way. We continued to roll out pieces of history, elements of the city that are noteworthy, and then translate those elements into a design, and put them on comfortable shirts and cool items. That’s really the core identity of what the brand is. We are celebrating Winston-Salem. We also carry merch for Wake Forest University and UNCSA (and soon WSSU). We are continuing to expand our reach, but the core of our mission is to give people unique ways to show how much they love Winston-Salem. We’ve expanded to do stuff for North Carolina and our local universities because we want anyone and everyone to feel like they can have a passion for where they are. Now we’ve opened our new shop in Industry Hill. There are a lot of reasons to feel good about Winston-Salem, and we just want to be a part of that!
What has being a part of the Winston-Salem community been like for Camel City Goods?
It has been great. People have been very receptive to that challenge that we talked about. The community has really embraced representing Winston-Salem. There are a lot of great causes out there, and a lot of great philanthropic missions. There are so many ways you can express your support of every ideology under the sun, but our version is straight forward. Show your local spirit! There have been a lot of people who have been very loyal to the brand. Some have followed us from day one, but we still meet new customers all the time. No matter where you go you can take that support with you. Even if you don’t retire here, and you move somewhere else you can rep Winston. You can wear a shirt that tells a story about the RJR building that inspired the Empire State building, or some other cool piece of history that others may not know about. People are awesome locally and are very supportive of the brand and the mission. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by passionate people as well as other cool local businesses that are doing great things themselves.
Do you have a mission if so what is it?
Our mission is to make unique gear for Winston-Salem and North Carolina, and give people an easy way to show local pride, to show where they are from or where they live.
What is your favorite thing about Camel City Goods?
Looking for fun new concepts that we can turn into designs. Figuring out what the future of the brand looks like. What new products that we want to release or carry. We have some new designs in the queue that we can roll out when the time is right. Meeting cool people is definitely a nice part of it, and the other part is figuring out what stories can still be told about our city! Discovering what things people will respond to and feel good about owning and sharing.
What is Camel City Goods best known for?
I think we are most known for our comfortable shirts. People tend to like that it is not just cool design work, but that those designs are printed on very comfortable tees. Even though we do a lot more than just t-shirts, people always tend to come back to how cozy the blends are and how soft the shirts wear.
What is the most fun thing to do in Winston-Salem?
A downtown food and drink adventure/tour is probably the best thing to do. Going through downtown and realizing just how many breweries and restaurants we have is great. Grab a partner or grab a friend and go experience all of the positive momentum that is taking place downtown. I have a lot of places I like to go, but rather than playing favorites, it’s fair to say that there are a ton of great local businesses run by a lot of great people who have passion for what they do. We are so lucky to share the neighborhood with people like that, and it makes being here very rewarding. The spirit of downtown Winston-Salem is what separates us from Anytown USA. We have unique shops, craft breweries, restaurants, all started by people with a passion! That is something that sets us apart from a lot of other cities. Our history gives us our character, but when you think about the future of Winston-Salem, the idea that people are working together Downtown to create all of these unique draws is something that is hard to replicate, and it gives us a distinctive character that maybe was missing 20-30 years ago.
If Camel City Goods was a superhero what powers would it have?
Time travel! We could learn so much more about our history firsthand. The triumphs and the mistakes. The impactful moments. Meeting iconic figures and witnessing important local history would really help us tell the stories of the city.
Anything else you would like Wake Community/Community at Large to know?
I think that it is awesome that Wake has established a presence Downtown. I think that for many years there was this perception that although Wake is located in Winston-Salem, it was really not connected with the city other than through the hospital. Wake has been very wise to put themselves in the heart of the action. From the development of the IQ to the downtown campus, I applaud Wake Forest and encourage them to continue investing themselves in making Winston-Salem even more strong and innovative!