Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Pride Fuels Brooklyn T-Shirt Business

By Rachel Holliday Smith on August 7, 2014 7:24am 

Slideshow
 A longtime resident of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn makes community pride t=T-shirts for his friends and neighbors.
Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Tees
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PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS — Seth Kaplan wears his love of his neighborhood on his sleeve  and hopes his neighbors will, too.

A resident of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens for about 15 years and an editor by trade, Kaplan spends a fair amount of his spare time thinking about “PLG,” as he calls it. He throws barbecues in Prospect Park for his neighbors, blogged about the area on the now-defunct website PLOG and often photographs the streets where he lives, putting together exhibits of the work.

But his line of T-shirts featuring the neighborhood's name may be his most popular homage. Kaplan first made a PLG T-shirt for himself, several years ago. When people saw it, they wanted their own.

“I have a few [shirts] that I’m selling that people know about, and then one day I just sort of show up wearing another one and then people say ‘I like that one! I want to get that one!’” he said.

The “PLG University” design is stylized to look like college gear and the “Citizen of PLG” style shows the slogan written over colorful passport stamps. Another style shows a photo of the radio tower in the area underneath bubbly, retro letters that read “WPLG in Brooklyn,” a fake radio station Kaplan dreamed up.

“We don’t have a radio station,” he said with a laugh. “That one is getting a really positive reaction.”

He makes five styles of Prospect Lefferts-Gardens pride shirts now and will soon introduce another, with a “PLG-opoly” theme, decorated with neighborhood landmarks laid out on a Monopoly-like game board.

In a year, Kaplan estimates he’s sold about 100 of the shirts, which cost $20 for adults and $15 for kids, mostly by word of mouth. He chalks up their popularity to the “strong sense of community” in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

“It’s kind of like living on Sesame Street,” he said. “A lot of us know each other. You walk down the street, you see people you know all the time. People are looking out for each other.”

Kaplan takes orders for the shirts in small batches, ordering five or six at a time from a direct-to-order garment manufacturer and delivering them when he next sees each customer.

“It’s not the kind of purchase where the person’s like ‘I must have this tomorrow,’” he said. “After a couple of weeks, I just hit everybody up.”

Though the T-shirts are more popular than Kaplan imagined, he said he doesn’t expect the project to be a big money-maker. He uses the modest profits to buy barbecue supplies and fund his neighborhood photography projects.

“I do it for the fun of it,” he said. “It’s good for community pride, and I get a kick out it, so it’s all good.”

To see more of the PLG T-shirt designs or to purchase a shirt, visit Kaplan’s Facebook page.

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