Minnesota residents still mourning the loss of Dayton’s, take heart.
Just in time to ease the sting of the flagship store in downtown Minneapolis closing, a Midwestern entrepreneur has released a new line of T-shirts commemorating the beloved brand.
On Thursday, Bygone Brand of Rockford, Ill., introduced T-shirts with four Twin Cities iconic brands — Dayton’s, Porky’s Drive-in, Moby Dick’s and Positively 4th Street Records.
Keith Watson, co-owner of Bygone Brand, has relatives who steered him to the metro’s unforgettable brands.
“We knew we had to do Dayton’s, especially after Macy’s closed the downtown store,” he said.
Watson, a graphic artist, re-created Dayton’s unmistakably slanted font in dark gray letters with a red apostrophe on light gray cotton. “I modeled it by looking at old gift boxes and verified it with a friend who’s a longtime Dayton’s fan. He said it was spot on,” Watson said.
A trademark search came up empty so Bygone Brand felt free to use the image. He reaches out to the owner when possible to avoid a lawsuit. “We don’t want to rip off anything,” he said. “It comes from a place of warmth.”
Porky’s Drive-in restaurant was in St. Paul from 1953 to 2011. Moby Dick’s was a bar on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis from 1971 to 1988 with the slogan “a whale of a drink.” Positively 4th Street Records was popular in Dinkytown in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the four years since the Bygone Brand started, it has reintroduced brands in other Midwestern cities such as Madison, Wis., St. Louis, Chicago, Peoria, Ill., and Milwaukee. Designs from St. Louis, Rockford and Peoria sell the best. The company, which buys the T-shirts and silk screens them in Rockford, has sold more than 25,000 in four years at Bygonebrand.com. The T-shirts ($24) are made of all cotton and cotton blends.
So far the Twin Cities line is limited to T-shirts, but Watson said he will probably extend the designs to hats, sweatshirts and coffee mugs.
More icons may be added later, but don’t look for the Lincoln Del, a St. Louis Park icon that closed in 2000, anytime soon. “We contacted the previous owners and they declined to be included,” Watson said. “We try to get permission when possible.”