PORTLAND, Mich. — When Gabe Viscomi first started printing Spartan Strong t-shirts at his shop last week, he only ordered 500 of them. He figured it’d be enough for a week.
However, when word spread about what he was doing, he sold out within the first hour.
“I was pretty shocked,” said Viscomi, who owns Nudge Printing in downtown Portland. “I’m an alumni and I know that the Spartan family is really big and vast. And just the sheer amount of people that are ordering shirts to support one another is really phenomenal.”
Viscomi began printing last Thursday, February 16, three days after three Michigan State students were shot and killed on campus and five others were hospitalized.
Within hours of the tragedy, the phrase Spartan Strong was born.
“When I originally started I had ordered 500 blank shirts for us to print, thinking that would be enough to last us for maybe a week. We sold out of those in the first hour,” says @NudgePrinting
— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) February 21, 2023
“I don’t know who came up with the term Spartan Strong,” Viscomi said. “I started seeing it on Twitter. So, I took that phrase and turned it into a t-shirt. From there I really started collaborating with Michigan State and the other vendors to see how we can do our best to get it out into the community.”
So far, they’ve sold over 11,000 Spartan Strong clothing items from his shop, he said. All proceeds go to the Spartan Strong Fund, which was set up to help the victims, their families, MSU, and school safety measures.
Viscomi said he believes they’ll raise $100,000 for the fund.
“Having to imagine what it would be like if it was one of my kids or someone in my family that was in a similar situation, so that’s really what’s been driving the desire for myself, as well as I believe everyone else that’s ordering shirts, the whole spartan community to come together to support one another,” he said. “So, I mean there’s a lot more good people in the world than there are bad people.”
Viscomi, his staff and volunteers were on their feet all day Tuesday. Some were printing T-shirts in the front of the shop, while others folded them and took them to a group in the back who were putting them in packages to be shipped all over the country.
They said they’ve been on their feet for the last few days.
“I worked really late last night and there’s going to be several more,” Viscomi said. “We have just scratch the surface for all of the orders. So we’re frantically trying to get all of them out into the hands of the community.”
And the calls continue to pour in, he said. The staff will continue to fulfill as many orders as possible.
“I want to be able to walk down the street and see people wearing the Spartan Strong shirt and know that we went through something together,” Viscomi said. “And that we came together as a community to help those that were in need.”
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