So what's a business to do when a local pair of Sens fans came up with a t-shirt idea that's taking Ottawa by storm? Notice anything similar in the picture above? Does it remind you of this shirt from 10 days ago? Minus the covered FUCK part of course, which is the whole point of the shirt. This version just says "don't mustache with the walrus" and that makes zero sense. Other than that, it's an identical copy.
Sports Experts, a sports chain that has multiple Ottawa locations, has started carrying a bootleg version of the popular tee that was created by Eric Chamois and Jamie McLennan, without their permission. Obviously the duo was none too pleased by this, so I caught up with them to get their side of the story and get the timeline of events that lead to the making of this now iconic tee.
Sens Town: So when did you guys come up with the idea for the shirt and how did it come about?
Jamie McLennan: I bought Eric a ticket to Game 3 for his 40th birthday. The Friday night before the Sunday game, Eric messaged me saying we should make shirts to wear to the game that say DON'T F#%K WITH THE WALRUS. I thought it was hilarious and said I'd have a design to him shortly. We printed a handful of them on Sunday just in time for the game.
ST: What made you guys go from just wearing them yourselves to producing them for sale?
Eric Chamois: The intent from the beginning was to produce a shirt to wear to the game. Jamie had bought me a ticket to game three for my fortieth birthday and I thought it would be fun to have a shirt to remember it by. Before printing Jamie had shared the image and a few friends and family all wanted a shirt so for the original run I produced a dozen shirts.
Jamie McLennan: The response we received at the game was overwhelming. We were constantly stopped to have our pics taken and asked where we got them. Based on that response we decided we should make more for the fans.
ST: So what was the date you guys began to sell the shirts?
Eric Chamois: On May 5th we sold a couple of shirts to friends and family. We had a few left and before departing from a local bar on a bus to the game a few people we were meeting bought some and a couple total strangers also bought some.
Jamie McLennan: We started selling them to the public the following Tuesday May 7th, the night of Game 4. We contacted The Prescott who were kind enough to let us set up a table before the game to sell our shirts.
ST: What was the response to the tee's? I know I bought 3 myself and you guys went through several printings right?
Eric Chamois: By the next morning thanks to the ability of social media, the images of the shirt were everywhere. Robin Harper at Chez 106 was Facebooking it, it was mentioned by Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun, who had tweeted a photo of me at the game. The response was so great I had to outsource some printing to Colortex. On Tuesday while Nik at Colortex was printing CTVNews Ottawa interviewed me while the printing was going on in the background.
Jamie McLennan: The response was incredible and a bit overwhelming. Tuesday afternoon, before we were even setup at the Prescott, we were contacted by CTV news, 1310 news and had plenty of coverage from Chez. Also so many of our customers had great things to say about the shirts and what we were doing.
ST: So What made you guys want to donate a portion of the sales to the Sens foundation?
Jamie McLennan: We were never in this to make a lot of money, so we felt it was the right thing to do by donating to the Sens Foundation. Eric and I both have young kids who play recreational sports and helping out a charity that works with kids and sports just seemed natural.
Eric Chamois: If memory serves while this was starting and we were thinking of printing more shirts it was suggested by Robin at Chez that maybe part of the proceeds could be donated. My lovely wife contacted the Sens Foundation and we now donate $1.00 from every shirt we produce. As of last Friday we have already donated $470.00. There is more to come.
ST: So what was your reaction when you found out that a big retailer like Sports Experts were trying to cash in on your design?
Jamie McLennan: Devastating and disappointing. It was really fun to see this take off so unexpectedly, and to see this happen, just puts a damper on everything.
Eric Chamois: Disappointment. Anger. We only found out a few hours ago and I'm still pretty pissed. This is the second time in a week we have had our design taken. It must be pretty good.
ST: The weird thing is they got rid of the FUCK hidden by the mustache, so their version of the shirt doesn't even make sense. They weren't even able to steal properly, or do you feel like they made it slightly different to avoid copyright issues?
Eric Chamois: That's the worst part about this too, it doesn't even make sense! It probably was removed to try to avoid copyright issues, or they couldn't get away with selling merchandise with profanity on it.
ST: What do you guys intend to do, if anything about the situation?
Jamie McLennan: There's likely not much legal action we can take which is why we've turned to social media and local media. We've already had quite a few friends and Sens fans reach out with support for us. I think if enough people making a stink about it to the Sports Experts Facebook page, they'll be obliged to remove their shirts from their stores. Hopefully they can donate any of their profits to the shirts to The Sens Foundation. We're not looking for any compensation other than acknowledging that what they did is wrong and we are the original creators of the artwork and t-shirts.
ST: Are you guys planning any new designs for Round 2, or has this ruined it for you?
Jamie McLennan: No. This has been too exhausting. I think we'll stick to just watching the game, in our walrus shirts ;)
Eric Chamois: Not after this one. In ten days we have had three sales at The Prescott, who have been a godsend (go there eat a meatball sandwich), hundreds of emails, media coverage in papers, radio and tv. And have had our design ripped off twice. If people still want the shirt we have em, but a new design right now might make my wife rethink a few things.
ST: If people want to buy the original Walrus t-shirt from you guys, what should they do?
Jamie McLennan: They can email is at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or go to our website.
ST: Pick one up if you can and support a couple of nice guys who are local. They're $15 with $1 from each tee going to the Sens Foundation as well. So it's for a good cause.
You can follow Jamie McLennan on twitter @jamiejimjames and Eric Chamois owns the printing company J&L Ink. If you'd like to let know Sports Experts how you feel about this, you can leave them comments on their Facebook page.
Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on twitter @SensTown for all your Sens related news
UPDATE @ 11:50am:
Here's a picture of the same Bayshore location from which the original pic was snapped, where you can clearly see they have taken down the Walrus tee display now. Picture via James Gordon @SensReporter
Sports Experts also made this statement via their facebook page:
It doesn't say much. It basically seems like they aren't sure what goes on in their stores. But, at least they have publicly acknowledged it now, and since these shirts can't be worth very much to them in the first place, I expect a swift apology and removal of all the tee's in the next day or so.Will keep you updated on any developments as they may happen.
UPDATE #2 @ 12:40 pm:
So there you have it, straight from one of the creators. It appears that they will be working it out with Sports Experts, and if they're ok with it, we all should be. A somewhat happy ending to a crappy situation. I am impressed by the quick action though I must say. Well done Sens Army.
UPDATE #3 @ 2:15pm:
Sports Experts have done the right thing and have pulled the tee's from their stores and issued this apology via their Facebook page. They will be donating all the sales revenue to the Sens Foundation. It seems like the appropriate conclusion to the situation. Props to Sports Experts for handling it well and quickly.