Stores report brisk riot T-shirt sales

Some business owners said the shirts will damage Dinkytown’s reputation.

Nathan Hall

Nobody knows exactly what sport they play, but the merchandise sales have been brisk.

What helps, of course, is the team’s name – the Dinkytown Looters.

The sarcastic nod to the neighborhood’s hockey championship riots has been a remarkably successful business venture, San Diego-based clothier David Schultz said.

Purchases of short-sleeve T-shirts emblazoned with the imaginary team’s logo have been incredibly high, said Schultz, art director and co-proprietor of Papa Sea, which exclusively sells the shirts.

“This was obviously all done with tongue planted firmly in cheek,” Schultz said. “What happened here with the hockey riots was a black mark on the town, and we all hope it never happens again, but at the same time that doesn’t mean we can’t poke a little fun at it.”

The shirts retail for approximately $20 and come in a variety of colors.

Shultz said approximately 58 shirts had been shipped to Campus Cards in Dinkytown and a dozen to Ragstock in Uptown. The stores are the only outlets to stock the shirts so far.

An assistant manager at Ragstock’s Lake Street location said, “They are selling well.”

Campus Cards owner Karen Hanson also declined to discuss exact sales figures but said she has “sold quite a few.”

Hanson said that during the last Gopher hockey riot she had “a $200 bench turned into firewood, but I still think this is a really interesting concept, as crazy as that sounds.”

“I don’t see how buying one could mean I was somehow proud of being a part of the riot,” Hanson said.

Schultz said Campus Cards originally had some trepidation and was uncomfortable selling the shirts.

Jason Lemkuil, a freelance photographer and Dinkytown resident, said he thought the shirts “were sort of funny in a darkly satirical kind of way.”

Others directly affected by the two hockey riots said they strongly disagreed with the negative message they felt it was sending out to the rest of the world about Dinkytown.

“This is pretty senseless and in extremely bad taste,” said Dan Erickson, manager of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits, which had its windows smashed during this spring’s violent hockey victory celebration.

“It’s way too early for something like this,” said Josh Jungling, owner of Erbert & Gerbert’s. One of Jungling’s employees had her car destroyed during the April 12 mayhem.

“This was very personal to me, and a lot of other people are still really upset about what happened,” Jungling said.

Bridget Matzinger, a University education and human development senior, said she attempted to visit the Dinkytowner Cafe the night of the hockey championship to celebrate but was turned away by riot police.

“I really like Dinkytown and I don’t want this area to be synonymous with rioting and binge drinking and stupidity,” Matzinger said. “I want people to be able to hang out here without that concern on their minds.”

However, some who work and live in Dinkytown said the area’s bad reputation will only be temporary.

“This is still a really safe, really good place to go to school,” Jungling said.

Dan Erickson, who was present for both riots, said “most people don’t really associate what happened with the University area.”

Nevertheless, Hanson said, “I love Dinkytown, I love my customers, I love the students and I love the ‘U’ Ö but this is starting to get to be a pattern, and that’s really pathetic.”

Schultz, who is originally from Minneapolis, said, “overall I totally love Minneapolis and it’s reflected in our products combined with a little edgy humor.”

“At the end of the day, it’s still just a T-shirt,” Schultz said.