Wave Shoppe Hawaiian shirts and clothing are made in the USA with Aloha!
As Hawaiian shirts become more of an integral part of casual wear worldwide, many distributors and retailers have come to rely on factories from China to India for their production of Hawaiian shirts. Not the Wave Shoppe, our Hawaiian shirts are made in the USA and our guarantee to you is simple, whether you need celebration of life apparel or you simply worship Aloha, we are committed to providing you with the very best Hawaiian shirts and clothing, at prices you can afford.
You can expect a high quality Hawaiian shirt from the Wave Shoppe (pronounced Wave Shop) because making Hawaiian shirts and clothing is all we do. We spare no expense to make the finest Hawaiian shirts on the planet and our shirts will speak for themselves.
The History of Wave Shoppe Hawaiian Shirts (The Company)
Many times Charles and I are asked “how did you get into this business”. It really is quite an interesting yet funny story, so we decided to share it with our Wave Shoppe friends, customers and family. In order to appreciate our story let us begin at the beginning. Charles was born in Chicago Illinois into the foster care system and that alone is quite a story. In 1974 Charles had found himself wanting to help a local farmer with chores and soon a strong friendship was founded, which was good for everyone because Charles was a still a teen and able to keep up with the demands of life on a farm. In short time they adopted him into their family, they taught him to work hard for what he wanted. Today Charles is thoughtful, kind, and driven to succeed. He has quite a penchant for things that he created with his bare hands; he is also stubborn at times.
My childhood on the other hand was wonderful, Charles laughs and says I grew up in a Leave it to Beaver household. I grew up in Pacific Beach and had a stay at home Mom and a Dad who worked hard for his family to offer us every opportunity in life. Money wasn’t plentiful but we learned to appreciate the things we were given and to work hard for the things we wanted. As a young girl growing up with a surfer for a Dad I had gotten used to Hawaiian shirts and countless hours of riding around in the family wagon with surfboards tied on the top and beach bikes, chairs, umbrella and a cooler in the back. Not one electronic device or cell phone to spoil a day of family fun. Those were the days we hot footed it over to Jack in the Box for lunch as an extra special treat when we had the money. My parents instilled in me a love of our environment and we sometimes picked up trash off the beach others had left there. Charles would describe me as kind, globally conscious, naïve in the sense that I ALWAYS expect the best in people and an avid lover of souped up muscle cars. So now that you know a little background about us read on to discover the start of our business.
Charles and I met in 2000 at a coffee shop in Encinitas he was a Quality Control Manager and I was working for a large non-profit based in San Diego. One of the things I liked about him was his sense of humor he made me laugh and his wild and crazy Hawaiian shirt was just the thing a transplanted Illinois guy would wear. I soon learned Charles hated shopping so I began to buy clothes for him and honestly it wasn’t hard just find a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of jeans or shorts to match and that was pretty much it. I remember in the latter part of 2003 I bought him a couple new Hawaiian shirts from a local store and he washed them and put them in the dryer the next day. One of the shirts had faded and shrunk noticeably and on the other a button fell off so here I was sitting on the porch of our La Mesa home listening to Charles rant about the quality of the shirts. He was appalled at the quality and when I told him what I paid for them he was appalled at that too. I was into my second cup of coffee not really listening to his grumbling about his new shirts when he turned to me with his shrunken shirt in hand and said “I could make a better shirt than this!”
I think I rolled my eyes and said something remarkably intelligent like “HUH” to which he replied “How about we make Hawaiian shirts and sell them on the internet” so I said “SURE count me in” but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would bring it up again. Well dang if the next day came and he went out and bought a book on how to create a website. He took up residence in the Cave (extra room behind the garage) dragging out desks from the house, putting in a phone line, computer etc. and started thinking about creating our website based on information in A BOOK!
Eventually we found ourselves at an impasse, what shall we name this business? Honestly Charles experimented with quite a few naming concepts, yet in the end he eventually settled on Wave Shoppe. While he probably could have named it something like Chucky’s Aloha Shirt Shop, it was pretty clear that he had bigger ideas and didn’t want to be painted into a corner by choosing a product specific business name. When you consider that he felt drawn to soothing ocean waves and that he was currently working in a shop that resembled a “hut” like cave, Wave Shoppe made perfect sense (to him anyhow). Our logo depicts that sentiment today.
Once our website was created I began to get into the idea and we came to a place where we needed to put some product on our pages, so we invested a whopping $600.00 on some cheap shirts we found online and put them on our website and exactly 15 days after launch we sold one Hawaiian shirt, whoop our first sale! Of which we have framed in a picture that’s displayed at our current warehouse. We soon realized that we could indeed do this but we didn’t feel comfortable with the quality of the shirts we were initially selling, after all that is why we thought we should make our own shirts in the first place. Plus we really wanted to support our local economy and Charles and I both wanted to boast that we offered affordable Hawaiian shirts made in the good old USA. So we sat down and wrote our list. Hawaiian shirt patterns were at the top of the list and it took us about 2 weeks to find a good pattern maker that had experience with Hawaiian shirts. So we worked with Pattern Girl (Charles nicknamed her that) to create the patterns we have today, it was critical that the completed shirts have perfectly matched pockets and button up collars which can be buttoned for work and unbuttoned for fun.
Next on the list was material we searched online, in stores etc. and finally found a good supplier for Hawaiian print material so we picked a small variety of materials and had those shirts made from our patterns and we began to show a small profit. About that time we started getting requests about doing bulk sales to corporations, obviously we couldn’t be at home to answer the phone as we had day jobs too, but we managed as best we could. By the second year sales were good. We were beginning to get exhausted working all day at our day jobs and then putting in about 4-5 hours in the evening updating the website, folding shirts, boxing orders I remember the breaking point was one night we had a large order 100 shirts and we had to get them mailed in the morning but after we picked them up at the sewing facility we noticed that almost every other button was loose evidently they were down to only one button machine and that one had a malfunction, so you guessed it, Charles and I sat up all night sewing buttons on by hand. It was just horrendous. I told him I thought he needed to quit his day job and devote more time to the Wave Shoppe. He eventually found himself in a position to leave his dead-end job at his long time employer and it was no surprise to see him coming home with a small cardboard box containing his office mementos (one item was a mock million dollar bill given to him by a co-worker to serve as encouragement). He has never looked back.
I stayed with my job until about 2 years ago when due to budget constraints I was going to have my paycheck cut in third. Our Hawaiian shirt sales had been doubling each year so we had the money to support the move but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I know for sure as much as I love Charles I did not want to spend 24/7 with him after all absence does make the heart grow fonder and he can be a little bossy sometimes so what could I do. I remember sitting at home in my recliner and I told Charles “I don’t want to work for my company anymore and he said “Well what do you want to do?” an idea came into my head and I blurted out “How about I open a Wave Shoppe Store” he looked at me in surprise and said “if that is what you want to do I support you”.
I gave my notice to my job and Charles and I were soon on the prowl for a brick and mortar retail store. We eventually located a small, yet quaint showroom that needed a little TLC. The price was right and given that it was nearby we took the plunge and signed the lease agreement. Then commence the interior construction, painting, the installation of slat wall, purchasing display fixtures, and lots of cleaning of course. About a month later I finished stocking my first Wave Shoppe store and flipped the switch on my open sign for business sign. So there it is, Charles had the vision to open a Hawaiian shirt store in San Diego and we both worked to make our dream come true. We are often asked for advice by those who want to own and operate Web businesses and we always say the same thing “Don’t quit your day job until your sales can support you”.
Today we service fortune 300 and 500 companies, small businesses and of course the purists that love Hawaii and the symbolic Hawaiian shirts and apparel. Our current endeavors include, but are not limited to textile design and printing, apparel cutting, a Hawaiian lei company, a strong foothold in the medical industry and more. One of the reasons we succeed in our business ventures is we listen to our customers, they let us know their wants and needs and we let them know we sincerely appreciate their business. Much of our product line we have today is a direct result of responding to customer feedback.
So you may be asking yourself if they have reached the finish line, the peak of the plateau. Heck no we are just getting started. Wave Shoppe’s often explosive growth has spawned multitudes of new business ventures for us. Our business licenses probably tell the story best, first it was Wave Shoppe, then Wave Shoppe Hawaiian Shirts, then Wave Shoppe Hawaiian Shirts and Apparel and now… (We are not telling you just yet). Don’t change the channel folks because we are only 12 years young and this is just the beginning of great things to come.
Mahalo from all of us at Wave Shoppe Hawaiian Shirts and Apparel!
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