This week, we launch our holiday greetings from Andersonville! Plus, Laura, Sara, and Joelle do a roundup of all the great events this season, including this week’s Small Business Saturday and the return of the Holiday Trolley. View our Holiday Events calendar here.
Then, Laura and Joelle are joined by Tim Gillengerten, owner of Transit Tees, a Chicago themed merchandise store founded in 2001. With two locations in Wicker Park at 1371 N Milwaukee and here in Andersonville at 5226 N Clark, Transit Tees takes visuals from Chicago’s metropolitan landscapes and transforms them into fashionable artwork, clothing, magnets, housewares and more.
“The good thing is, I wake up everyday thinking about what I want to create, and what I want to make that day. I’m really excited to come to work every day.”
– Tim Gillengerten
Listen to Episode 36 with Tim Gillengerten!
Here are some references from Episode 36 that you may want to check out:
- Tim grew up in Michigan but has lived in Chicago for 35 years. He used to oversee the Kraft Foods account in the Midwest and worked downtown a lot, having to ride the train daily. After being involved with the corporate world for a significant portion of his career, Tim said he needed a little more creativity in his life. He left his design firm in 2000 and opened Transit Tees in Wicker Park in 2001.
- The first work of art Tim created involved combining all of the ‘inspected by’ labels from his travels over the years from various countries; he put them all together as a graphic on a t-shirt. The shirt was noticed by the Associate Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, who connected with Tim about selling it in the MCA store.
- His next project included a line of neighborhood tees, which used redesigned and re-structured CTA map logo decks as the shirt designs. This type of work eventually landed Transit Tees a contract with the CTA as their official manufacturer. Transit Tees are available for purchase here.
- The Transit Tees store opened in Andersonville in July 2017. Prior, Transit Tees sold out of Andersonville Galleria (5247 N. Clark) and at local festivals like Midsommarfest. Tim recommends that if you have any products or art that you are looking to test out a market, places like street fests and the Galleria are perfect to refine product offerings.
- Tim and Transit Tees has been working in Andersonville for over 10 years in other capacities as well. They helped design logos for Cheetah Gym (5248 N.Clark), Anteprima (5316 N. Clark ), m. Henry (5707 N. Clark ), and other signature Andersonville businesses.
- Tim’s favorite part about being the owner of a small locally-owned business is the everyday challenges he has to face. He loves the creative side of the business, but much of that work is delegated to other staff members. However, the is a huge reward in seeing his staff come up with an idea, and later sell the final product.
- Laura references Episode 24 of the podcast with Todd Mack and how his employees also take an active creative roll in the shop. Tim understands that their at a big advantage when it comes to young employees helping to cultivate the creative direction of the business.
- Tim estimates that 95% of what he sells in-store he and his staff have designed independently. Transit Tees also has printing presses, screen printing frames, sewing machines, button makers, and a vinyl cutting machine, allowing his team to craft 90% of the shop’s products in-house.
- Transit Tee’s most popular products are the square train station magnets; they make all 150 train stations on the CTA map. Tim estimates they sell up to a few thousand each month. The magnets are available for purchase in-store or online.
- Tim is also a huge fan of miniature or oversized graphics, and their CTA Loop graphic helped them even to land a feature with Apple’s marketing team!
- This year alone, Tim and his staff at Transit Tees worked at 15 different street festivals, including Andersonville’s own Midsommarfest
- Tim is excited about the upcoming One of a Kind Holiday Show at Merchandise Mart December 6-9. Including Transit Tees, he mentions that several Andersonville businesses are represented there.
- In terms of new products, Tim is excited about recent t-shirts designs with Retro on Roscoe and work with the MCA. They also just released the brand new Loop – The Elevated Card Game, which is featured in our Andersonville Gifts Guide – For the Kid & Kid at Heart.
- If given the chance, Tim would switch places with Andersonville Galleria for the day because he admires the space and how many artists they are able to bring together.
“I want to thank Andersonville Chamber of Commerce for welcoming us to the neighborhood, working with us, helping us in our first year. In general, the whole neighborhood has been amazing”
– Tim Gillengerten