CHICAGO — Kevin Cremins is glad his wife, Bridget, complained about his shirt selection prior to family vacations.
"She's always saying I don't have enough nice T-shirts," Cremins said. "I usually would just throw the same four or five shirts into the bag."
Cremins, a Relief Lieutenant with the Chicago Fire Department, used the criticism to start his own T-shirt company, Pub Shirt Club, which combines his love for Ireland and the pubs there. Cremins, a Mount Greenwood native and resident, debuted the subscription-based club in May, and it has about 300 subscribers, including ones from the Southwest Side, Jefferson Park and Downtown.
"Ireland has a great story," said Cremins, 41, a Marist High School graduate, "There are a lot of people in Chicagoland and America that claim Irish roots."
Both of Cremins' parents were born in Ireland, and he's visited the Emerald Isle 13 times. His shirts, which arrive at customers' homes once a month, feature paintings of old-time Irish pubs. September's shirt will have Keating's pub in Kilbaha County Clare in honor of 9/11. The pub, in western Ireland, claims to be the country's closest to New York City. Ten percent of sales will be donated to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which honors police and firefighters who died in 9/11.
Subscriptions can be bought on a yearly basis ($228, or $19 per month). Or you can pay $22 each month and cancel whenever you want.
"These aren’t run-of-the-mill T-shirts," Cremins said. "They look good with a pair of shorts or pair of jeans that you would wear out to dinner."
Cremins left the University of Illinois, where he was majoring in economics, one year before graduating to join the fire department. He also has a sales background and was a buyer for a steel fabricator company for a decade.
His goal by the end of 2016 is to have 1,000 subscribers.
"Right now I'm just having a lot of fun," Cremins said. "I really enjoy the Irish culture."
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