Live Generously. I love that phrase. And Justin & Audrey Falk of Shop Good live that phrase every day they open the doors of their cute little shop. They have been and icon of 9th street over the years, but their reach within the community isn't contained between Broadway & Oklahoma Ave. Not only can you see their tee shirt design work sprinkled on people in the streets of OKC, but the Falks have also committed to have a positive impact on the community by donating a portion of every purchase to a good cause in the city-- over $40,000 given so far. Pretty awesome, huh?
Names: Justin & Audrey (& Sawyer) Falk
Business Name: Shop Good
Justin: Drunken Turtle pie at Pie Junkie
Audrey: Dark chocolate
Sawyer: Gummy worms
Audrey: Vacationer is my go to for an afternoon pick me up at the shop.
Sawyer: Currently on repeat is Katy Perry’s Roar (which Sawyer calls “The Tiger Song”).
Tell us a little about what your business:
Shop Good is a tee shirt and gift shop that gives back with every purchase. We screen print our shirts by hand and we source our goods from brands with great stories and authenticity. And then we partner with a local charitable organization every year to support them with a portion of our sales revenue. This year our sales are benefitting Special Care, a fantastic school for Oklahoma City children with special needs where therapeutic services and one-on-one attention are built in to the school day. It’s such a thrill to join forces with our customers to give back to deserving causes and have a real impact for good in our neighborhood.
When did you start your business?
Shop Good opened in 2009. We started in 400 sq ft of borrowed community center space, believe it or not. It’s been a dream to grow the shop from such humble beginnings – where Justin and I checked customers out via PayPal on our laptop, we hand-typed every merchandise tag on a thrift store gem of a typewriter, and we built all of our fixtures from big trash day scores like old doors, sections of fence and plumbing pipe. Almost 6 years later, we now have 3 employees, 1000 sq ft of a beautifully renovated historic building and a screenprinting shop that pushes out hundreds of shirt a week.
How do you choose what items you want to sell?
We’re careful about how we select our products. We make sure than anything we carry is certified sweatshop free – no people were harmed in the process of making our goods. We make sure our items are useful and well-designed – something you’ll feel excited about owning for a long time. And we make sure that our products all accomplish something good – we source our goods from brands who are already actively advocating for a better world and we donate 5% of the retail price of most items to a local nonprofit. We believe that living generously involves both enjoying life to the fullest and giving help to those in need – and our products help our customers do both.
Why did you choose Oklahoma City to start your business?
We used to be embarrassed to tell people we live and work in Oklahoma City. Most of our friends on the coasts have this mental picture of Oklahoma where everyone still wears cowboy hats and the only thing to do on a Friday night is head to a rodeo. But there were a lot of great things about starting up in OKC. The downtown core was on the cusp of major revitalization, after being completely abandoned during the oil bust of the 80s and 90s. Property values hadn’t completely rebounded, so we were able to get a great deal on a really incredible location. And with such affordable cost of living, lots of other young professionals were moving back home to Oklahoma, starting businesses with similar vibes as ours and helping to create vibrant urban districts filled with local shops and restaurants. Downtown Oklahoma City has been a very welcoming place to be an entrepreneur, with genuine neighborliness between business owners, and a community that’s excited about a return to an urban core that’s filled with mom and pop shops. I’m not sure there’s any other place where we could have successfully started a retail shop with $300 and a borrowed printing press. And we’re so excited to see what the next 10 years hold for our city.
A little about our screen printing process…
We print every shirt in our shop by hand. It’s a labor of love, but the results are well worth it. It’s funny that you can tell when you look carefully at one of our shirts, that it’s one-of-a-kind – there are subtle variations in the print density, made by the fluctuating pressure of our hands on the press. Some prints will be more faded, others more dark and contrasted. And each design comes out looking slightly worn, almost vintage, with great visual texture and premium softness, thanks to our specialty inks, which are water-based to actually absorb into the fabrics. Traditional inks are plastisol-based, so the ink sits on top of the cotton weave, giving it a bulkier, stiffer feel. Plus our inks are 100% safe for the environment – no toxic chemicals or hazardous byproducts – and our blank tee shirts are all certified sweatshop free or made in the USA. So we feel confident that our footprint, both environmentally and socially, is as thoughtful and responsible as can be. Our small team works tirelessly to create designs that will connect with our customers, whether it’s a new Thunder game day tee or an inspiring hand-lettered quote, and once we’ve got one perfected, we print it up in small batches right here on site. It’s pretty magical to watch our shirts come to life, hot off the press, and then to see them pop up around town on our customers while we’re grabbing our morning coffee or cheering in the stands at the Peake.
What is your favorite part of your business:
here’s not much about owning and operating Shop Good that’s a drag. But probably our best moments have happened when we’re connecting with the nonprofits we support. We started the store with a passion to sustainably support the do-gooders in our community. And harnessing the power of business, connecting it to every day purchases like coffee beans and cotton gameday tees, has been a successful way to do just that. In our 6 years of business, we’ve donated over $40,000 to local nonprofit organizations who are making it a reality for all Oklahomans to live happy and healthy lives. Plus we’ve gotten to paint faces for foster families at a carnival, shop for Christmas gifts for kids in need, and host an art show featuring paintings done by grade schoolers whose families are homeless. It’s so rewarding to give generously, especially when we’re the ones leaving every encounter with a big smile and a broader view of the world around us.
Thanks so much Audrey & Justin for being part of our series, and for all of the great things you do in our community! XOXO Ely