Delawareans looking to represent their city with fresh apparel now have a new option at their disposal. Homestretch Apparel, owned by local resident Jason McMahon, is open and ready to serve the community’s needs for showing off their Delaware pride.
Located at 29 N. Sandusky St. in the downtown district, Homestretch features several types of clothing, as well as other items such as pint glasses, coffee mugs, and masks that carry various themes pertaining to the community. Originally scheduled to open April 3, in conjunction with that month’s First Friday event, Homestretch’s opening was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, McMahon first introduced Homestretch to the community through his “Delaware Has Heart” campaign in which he sold t-shirts that benefited local businesses. When buying the shirts, which sold for $24 online, there was a drop-down box that included all of the participating businesses. Customers could then select a business in which $10 of the shirt sale would be donated to. The campaign raised nearly $5,000 for local businesses, McMahon said, while also serving as a soft launch for Homestretch in the community. Now, the community can enjoy the local flavor of Homestretch and do their shopping in person.
The Delaware pride found in the store isn’t just a front; McMahon and his wife invested in the community 15 years ago when they decided to move to Delaware. Now, with their two kids attending Delaware City Schools, their investment in the community has only continued to grow. Already a business owner, McMahon wanted to invest even further by opening a business in Delaware. In talking with his business partner, who owns a silk-screening business of his own, the idea of starting an apparel business in Delaware began to take shape.
“He and I brainstormed about Delaware, and we kind of kept looking around, and we just decided, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’” McMahon said. The name, he said, was the work of his wife, who came up with the idea of “Homestretch” to reference the Little Brown Jug.
After settling on the downtown location and already having an idea of how he wanted the store to work, McMahon said the question was how it would all tie into the city of Delaware.
“Over the last 15 years of being here, we’ve always felt that Delaware has had this potential, because at the time we moved here, (downtown) was kind of a ghost town,” he said. “I’ve always felt we had a little gold mine up here (in Delaware) — this little niche community that is on the verge of doing great things — and we’ve started doing that over the past few years.”
Like any business, demand is a critical component, and McMahon said there was a need in the downtown district for more retail options to shop. In particular, there wasn’t much of a presence of a t-shirt shop concept like McMahon was starting, he said, especially one geared toward all things Delaware.
“With Homestretch, the idea was to keep it simple,” McMahon said. “Let’s bring in hoodies, t-shirts, crewnecks, sweatpants, the unisex type of apparel that pays tribute to Delaware.”
Walking through the shop, the communal pride on which the store was founded is impossible to miss. Art celebrating the Little Brown Jug and historic photos of county sports teams of years ago adorn the walls. On the racks, customers will find apparel for OWU, local high schools (Hayes, Buckeye Valley and Berlin), celebrations of the city itself, as well as odes to other staples in the community such as the Little Brown Jug and past staples such as the Little Brown Jug restaurant.
Some of the apparel features historic logos not often seen these days, an emphasis McMahon said was important in starting the store. “We really just wanted to find some historic things about Delaware to bring to people’s attention and come up with a design concept to pay tribute to them,” he said, adding that he and his wife did “a ton” of research at the Delaware Historical Society and the OWU library to find the concepts.
McMahon said he has also decided to keep the “Delaware Has Heart” campaign ongoing, with the donations from each shirt going to the small business relief fund that Main Street Delaware operates.
“It’s a very special place,” McMahon said of Delaware. “I preach Delaware to a ton of people who don’t live here. When my wife and I were looking for homes, we looked all over Columbus, but we wanted a small-community vibe.”
Rhonda Pickell, the store manager at Homestretch, said it has been crazy for her, a nonresident of Delaware, to see how many people come into the store insistent upon loading up on any and everything related to Delaware. “(The community) has a lot of Delaware pride,” she said.
To check out what Homestretch Apparel has to offer, visit its website at www.homestretchapparel.com.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.