Local custom T-shirt retailer Fantasy T-Shirts closed its doors after more than 40 years of operation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded in 1978, the company specializes in custom screen printing for tees and apparel. According to owner and manager Arthur Choy, Fantasy T-Shirts began experiencing hardship during 2019’s holiday season, a period that’s typically good for businesses.
Fantasy T-Shirts was not the only business facing revenue issues at the time — according to Choy, Bobby G’s Pizzeria on University Avenue saw a similar drop in business.
A push to improve sales was made in 2020 until the business closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Choy pointed to the pandemic as a significant factor in the closure of the business.
For Fantasy T-Shirts, the closure of schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact.
“For us, the majority of our business comes from educational institutions, like UC Berkeley or Berkeley High,” Choy said. “We feed off their events — when coronavirus shook schools, it rippled to us. When school’s not in session, they won’t need shirts for walkathons or Halloween parties or other events.”
Despite the physical location’s closure, Choy intends to keep the business running online while pivoting toward building the retail side of the business. According to Choy, the custom screen printing side will be put on hold until the business is “settled down.”
For the online store, Choy said he wants to focus on putting out the store’s own branded clothing lines. While the official website has the opening of the online store scheduled for spring, Choy added that it is likely to open by the end of summer.
Choy also expressed interest in reopening the physical location at some point in the future.
“It’s been a crazy ride, positively speaking,” Choy said. “We definitely didn’t want to close, but we had to given the circumstances.”