What’s Up With Those Yooper Shirts?

Whether you’re a lifelong Yooper or only visit once in a great while, you wouldn’t be reading this post if you didn’t have a special place in your heart for Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. But short of making the trip up here and supporting the local businesspeople who make this such a great place to live, how can you let your true colors shine? Thanks to Yooper Shirts, there may be a way.

What Is Yooper Shirts?

Yooper Shirts is a “U.P. clothing brand specializing in Graphic Design, Embroidery & Screen Printing services located in Downtown Ishpeming,” according to its website. That about sums it up — but it doesn’t quite capture the pride that owner Jeremy Symons feels for his native land. The Ishpeming native has always been passionate about two things: apparel and the Upper Peninsula. So, a few years back, he decided to merge those two passions…and Yooper Shirts was born.

The Yooper Shirts Backstory

Just as the economy hit rock bottom, Symons stepped up to the plate and launched his website. “After a year and half online, I decided to take the business and open my first retail location in West Ishpeming,” he says. “After three months, I then moved the business closer to Ishpeming, where we shared space with the Ishpeming/Negaunee Chamber of Commerce.” Considering that most screen-printed T-shirt companies never even make the move to a single retail location, it’s pretty impressive that Yooper Shirts was able to move into two successive locations within the space of three months!

Symons wasn’t done, though. Before November 2011, he had contracted much of his printing out to a larger company that could handle that sort of thing. But that month, he purchased a (somewhat expensive) screen printing machine and began creating his entire shirt line in-house. Over the subsequent months, he hired four employees to help with printing, ordering and other sundry tasks. And in September 2013, he moved Yooper Shirts into a newly renovated space in the Pioneer Square building, near the heart of old Ishpeming.

“From refinished hardwood floors to a large exposed brick wall, our new shop has a high-end feel in a small town environment,” he says.

What Yooper Shirts Does

Yeah, but what exactly does Symons and his crew do in their shop? That’s the fun part. Yooper Shirts releases several seasonal lines per year, each of which offer weather-appropriate clothing that appeals to high and low fashion sensibilities alike. At any given time, the company offers:

  • T-shirts, hoodies, crewnecks and other apparel styles featuring the U.P.’s physical outline
  • Apparel featuring variations on the area code “906”
  • Sweatpants and caps with geographical symbols, the 906 area code or stylized wilderness scenes
  • Town- and school-specific apparel
  • Bags, koozies and other accessories, all of which are cleverly branded and printed

Yooper Shirts also does custom screen printing for dozens of clients across the U.P., including some of the region’s most reputable companies. In fact, if you see someone around here wearing a shirt that depicts a local company’s logo or something that relates to the U.P.’s culture or geography, there’s a good chance it came out of Symons’ shop.

Where to Find Yooper Shirts

You don’t have to visit Symons’ shop in person to get your hands on a Yooper Shirt, although his crew would love to have you. If you do stop by the shop, come during open hours: 9 a.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Otherwise, the company’s e-commerce portal is available 24/7, offering the entire collection at reasonable prices. You can also find Yooper Shirts — though possibly not the exact “make and model” you’re looking for — at more than a dozen outlets around the U.P., including the Marquette Regional History Center and Che Bello in the heart of Marquette.

So there you have it: a great way to show your Yooper pride without trekking up to the U.P. or gabbing about us to your friends. (Though we certainly wouldn’t mind if you did!) Order your screen-printed shirt today, wherever you happen to be!