Aug 31, 2022 - Business

Des Moines' RAYGUN clothing store is growing bigger

interior of raygun

The inside of RAYGUN in Des Moines. Photo courtesy of RAYGUN

RAYGUN's hyperbolic humor and Helvetica font t-shirts are household items in Iowa at this point.

  • But as the Des Moines-based screen printing company eyes expansion — don't expect it to break ground somewhere trendy like Austin, Texas, or Denver, said owner Mike Draper.

Why it matters: There's a certain Midwesterness that makes the t-shirt company popular here, but not doable elsewhere, Draper said.

  • If you take away the ranch jokes and self-deprecating humor, "Then people think, 'Well, this store is just a store for political progressives.' And it's kind of preachy," Draper said.

Driving the news: The company is opening a new store in Davenport at 210 2nd Street, marking its eighth location since the original SMASH opened in the East Village in 2004.

Yes, and: While someone from Des Moines may question, "Why there?"

  • "You have to remind people that's what Denver says about Des Moines," Draper said.

The big picture: Pre-pandemic, RAYGUN was poised to double its brick-and-mortar storefronts to hit its long-term revenue goals.

  • But by 2021, it reached those goals, mainly because of its online sales and custom content.

Now, the long-standing goals are focused on opening hyper-local, retail spaces that bring a little humor to Iowa and other Midwestern towns.

What's next: Wisconsin? A small town? All store options are being kicked around.


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