T-shirts and iPhones: An Adventure in Mobile Journalism

“Alright, links in an hour!”

And with that, we were let out into the world. The assignment: find a subject, take photos, take video, interview a few people and put it all together in a cohesive blog post. In an hour. No sweat, right? That’s what I was hoping.

After deciding to forgo my original idea of Main Squeeze Cafe (lunch rush), I crossed the street and walked into Acme Hot & Fresh T-Shirts. The store is a CoMo staple and the employees always seemed pretty relaxed, so I was pretty positive I would be able to work with them on short notice.

I was right.

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The “how-to” signs hanging over the front counter of Acme.

I asked the man at the counter, who turned out to be employee Coleman Hodges, if it would be alright for me to cover Acme for a small assignment. He obliged, and told me to simply ask if I needed anything.

Acme is a custom t-shirt printing store. Customers can order one or one hundred t-shirts, customized any way they choose. The shirts are printed in store and ready to go as quickly as 30 minutes after a design has been chosen.

After taking a few pictures and figuring out an angle for my piece, I sat down briefly with store manager Reid Lyle to talk about Acme.

“Basically, we’re one of the few who will do singles,” Lyle said of what makes Acme stands out against other t-shirt printing companies. “Most places have a dozen minimum, but we pride ourselves in short runs and quick turnaround. It’s what we’re good at.”

Lyle said this doesn’t mean the store can’t handle large order.

“We still have to compete,” Lyle said. “I think our biggest order has been around 2,000 pieces in one run.”

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Lyle (left) and Hodges look at an incoming order behind the counter.

Coleman Hodges, self-described t-shirt aficionado, has been working at Acme for 13 months.

“I think I’m supposed to get a free lunch,” Hodges jokes of his one-year anniversary.

Hodges said the best part about working at Acme is the people and working environment.

“It’s such a great working environment,” Hodges said. “Everyone here is so great and I’ve never had better bosses. I don’t think about coming in like ‘Ugh, work.’ It’s more like ‘Nice.'” Hodges nods his head and grins. “We make t-shirts with a smile.”

I asked both men what their favorite shirt was that they had either made or seen. Both, understandably, had trouble deciding.

“Most customer ones are so personal that I feel like I just don’t get the joke,” Lyle said laughing. “A former employee made the Tropicannabilism one, and I always get a kick out of that one.”

Hodges had to take a few minutes to pick a favorite. After a few jokes about picking children, he pointed to one of the shirts up on the wall. Shirt displaying here are printed from permanent designs that customers can order at any time.

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Hodge’s favorite t-shirt from the wall.

“I really like the Stormtrooper getting ready for work,” Hodges said. “I think it’s so funny and I made one for myself.”

This mobile journalism assignment was strange for me, even as a (seasoned??) reporter. Walking into a store with no pre-reporting, no plan and no angle is weird. And scary. And I don’t think I like it. But it’s a good learning experience to take quick notes, talk to people and think on your feet.

Enough chatting. I have six minutes before this is late and my pictures won’t upload. Until next time!

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