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Hats Off to Custom T-Shirt Alternatives


Everyone loves a custom shirt. As a business, custom shirts with your branding seem like a surefire way to draw attention and help you stand out in a customer’s mind. But what happens if you’ve already printed an entire wardrobe’s worth of branded shirts or are looking for unusual alternatives to a custom t-shirt?

Fortunately, there are options, and print technology nowadays means that just about anything you can think of can be printed on. Custom mugs, pens, hats, USB drives, coolers, and even adult coloring books are all products that companies can add their logo to as a way to promote themselves. Custom t-shirts are ‘custom’ down to the size, whereas many of these other promotional products are of the one-size-fits-all variety. And while creating custom t-shirts can be a cost-effective way to generate consumer impression, there are promotional products out there that are even less expensive, such as pens.

Man wearing Uncle Leroy's Coffee hat makes a coffee drink in a cafe

One of the baristas at Uncle Leroy’s Coffee showing the trucker hat in action!

Uncle Leroy’s Coffee in Anchorage, Alaska opts to think outside the t-shirt box when it comes to their branding. As a unique coffee shop that got its start pan-roasting its coffee beans on the road in a converted 1968 school bus formerly used by a preacher, the coffee bar leaves an impression on its patrons. Garnering enough attention and customers to build a brick-and-mortar in midtown Anchorage, Uncle Leroy’s Coffee is memorable enough for both locals and out-of-towners to come calling for custom merchandise. While Uncle Leroy’s Coffee sells their own roasted beans, as one would expect out of any good coffee shop, their shop also features trucker hats, mugs, and even infant bodysuits.

With its start in an old bus, the trucker hats are a fun nod to Uncle Leroy’s Coffee’s roots. Says co-owner Austin Schwartz, “It seemed like the perfect fit considering our 1968 bus is a big rig.” The shop sells the Yupoong Classic Trucker Hat, which features an easily adjustable snapback closure to accommodate a range of sizes, and color contrast panels so that the art stands out. Local Anchorage Artist Rejoy Armamento came up with the design: a rustic graphic of the original Uncle Leroy’s Coffee bus with the shop text. This art also features prominently on the front window of the current Uncle Leroy’s Coffee shop, so the branding is consistent throughout the business and custom merch.

Black trucker hat with illustration of a bus printed in black ink and the text Uncle Leroy's Coffee

The Yupoong Classic Trucker Hat looks stylish and serves as the perfect canvas for the Uncle Leroy’s Coffee logo.

It only makes sense that Uncle Leroy’s Coffee shop, where drinkware is required to enjoy the product sold, also sells drinkware. According to the 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study from the Advertising Specialty Institute, 88% of U.S. consumers own some form of promotional drinkware. This encompasses glasses, water bottles, and mugs. Drinkware can also provide synergy for the business using it—think of Starbucks’ branded drinkware in-store and their reusable cup discount encouraging customers to buy one of their mugs to use towards this promotion. And with coffee, mugs are the drinkware of choice when serving it hot—so it’s no surprise that the Uncle Leroy’s Coffee bus shows up on a mug.

The 10 oz. Ceramic Diner Mug that Uncle Leroy’s Coffee chose is a perfect fit. It has a classic shape that evokes a cozy space and a hot cup of joe, and is perfect for loyal customers to brew up their own cup at home with the shop’s beans. The mug is both top-rack dishwasher safe and microwave safe, so even the busiest coffee fan has a fun way to enjoy their drink and show off their favorite coffee shop.

White ceramic diner mug with illustration of a bus printed in blue ink and the text Uncle Leroy's Coffee

It only makes sense that a coffee shop also sells coffee mugs, like the 10 oz. Ceramic Diner Mug.

Making sure that customers of all shapes, sizes, and ages are covered, Uncle Leroy’s Coffee also also sells infant onesies. Even if babies aren’t drinking coffee (yet), it’s still fun to dress them up. The Rabbit Skins Jersey Baby Bodysuit features premium cotton fabric and comes in 21 bright colors, which all look great with the now-ubiquitous coffee bus. The onesie’s sizing covers both babies and toddlers with a range from zero to 24 months.

Baby wearing pink onesie with Uncle Leroy's Coffee logo in black ink on front.

The Rabbit Skins Jersey Baby Bodysuit comes in a range of bright colors to draw attention to your design.

In today’s social media-heavy marketplace, being able to have a strong brand presence is important to ensure that your name gets out there. “Custom gear is a great way to promote your business in the public space with customers who are providing social proof that your brand means something,” says Austin. “In a busy landscape, affordable custom gear allows you to compete with the monopolies that dominate the scene.” With so many options out there for you to print on, there’s almost no limit to what custom products you can use to surprise customers and fans.


Kendra is the Copywriting Support at Custom Ink. She has a background in art but she loves writing, so she finds a compromise between the two by creating comics in her free time.

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