Stay Apparel Co.

An authentic American brand of place

Lancaster

We've added eight tees and a tote bag so far this year

ProductsNeal GouletComment


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When I think of Stay’s product prolificity in 2019, Johnny Cash comes to mind.

None of our new tees is black, so that’s not why I invoke the Man in Black. Rather, it’s Cash singing “I’ve Been Everywhere”:

To wit: “I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow … “

We get around, too, for pop-up events in old department stores, in hotel banquet rooms and on city streets. But we also travel in a figurative sense, as we’ve done with the recent introduction of new Harrisburg, Hershey, Lancaster, York and Happy Valley tees.

We’ve added eight tees in all, including our John Updike-inspired heart shirt in a women’s cut and children’s sizes and a new version of our popular unisex Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful tee, also in a women’s cut and children’s sizes.

We added a Garvin’s department store retro tee, giving us one for Lancaster to complement our Flying Machine (Hershey), Helb’s Keystone Brewery (York), and Herpak Franks (Harrisburg) throwback designs.

Canvas grocery bag

All told, the Stay lineup now comprises 30 distinct tees.

Our one other addition this year is a cotton canvas grocery bag featuring the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful design. It’s roomy and sturdy for carrying food and beverage, but it’s so stylish that you’ll feel comfortable taking it to work or on a trip.

Of course, everything we sell is always available on stayapparel.com. We bring a representative selection to all of our pop-up appearances, too. If you’re coming to see us at a show and want to make sure we have a certain item, please send us a note at hello@stayapparel.com and we’ll be more than happy to oblige.

We haven’t been everywhere, man, but we try to make our way around the midstate. We hope to see you down the road.









Tale of the tee: Garvin's department store

ProductsNeal GouletComment
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Stay spent three Saturdays in December 2018 participating in Creatively Lancaster’s pop-up market at Park City Center. We were among dozens of vendors selling from tables in a portion of the former Bon-Ton department store.

We returned to the otherwise empty store April 13 for another Creatively Lancaster show. The Bon-Ton, which began in York, Pa., in 1898 and became a regional chain, went out of business in 2018 (although efforts are afoot to bring it back). If we project 44 years into the future, what will people remember about Bon-Ton?

I ask because 44 years ago, another department store went out of business in downtown Lancaster. Like Bon-Ton, Garvin’s, the self-described “store for the thrifty,” lasted for more than a century, albeit with one location.

Having only arrived in south-central Pennsylvania in 1991 and never having lived in Lancaster, I hadn’t heard of Garvin’s until 2018, when I stumbled upon one of its paper bags on eBay. My subsequent research revealed a fascinating company that for decades was at the heart of life in Lancaster.

That’s a big reason why we made Garvin’s the subject of our newest retro tee, joining a lineup of local brands of yesteryear that also includes our Helb’s Keystone Brewery (York), Herpak Franks (Harrisburg), and Flying Machine restaurant (Hershey) tees.

Next door to the courthouse

From a 1970 postcard, East King Street, Lancaster, looking toward Penn Square, Garvin’s (note the G logo on the brick facade) is next to the old Lancaster County Courthouse. (Copyright Melvin J. Horst)

From a 1970 postcard, East King Street, Lancaster, looking toward Penn Square, Garvin’s (note the G logo on the brick facade) is next to the old Lancaster County Courthouse. (Copyright Melvin J. Horst)

Milton Thomas Garvin, a native of Fulton Township in southern Lancaster County, moved to the city of Lancaster at age 14 in 1863 and became an errand boy at an East King Street dry goods store called R.E. Fahnestock. Garvin worked his way up the ranks and, after Fahnestock’s death, bought the store in 1894, renaming it M.T. Garvin & Co.

At that time, the store comprised one building, just west of the county courthouse. Garvin’s purchased adjacent buildings in 1912 and in 1927, according to the Elizabethtown Chronicle newspaper. Upon completion of the expansion and renovation, it became known as the “Greater Garvin Store” in the company’s print ads.

A 1929 Garvin’s ad in the Chronicle promoted Suburban Day Saturday:

“A day when our Country friends and customers will come to Garvin’s by the hundreds to obtain the biggest bargains of the Spring season.” For example, women’s coats normally priced $14.75 to $19.50 were on sale for $12.

Garvin’s also gave back to its employees. When Hershey Park (it was two words back then) opened a new restaurant in July 1916, the Harrisburg Telegraph reported, it was “inaugurated by a party of employees of M.T. Garvin & Co. of Lancaster, who brought hundreds of flags to show their patriotism.”

The American economy entered a mild recession in summer 1929 (a Great Depression would arrive that fall). On June 27, Garvin’s closed for its annual picnic, held at the Carsonia amusement park in Reading.

“Special trolley cars will convey the picnicers to the Park, while others will go by automobile,” according to the Chronicle. “Sports and games of various sorts have been arranged.”

In July, to mark the federal government’s release of new currency, Garvin’s released 100 balloons into the air. Each balloon bore a tag that could be redeemed for a new one-dollar bill (worth about $15 today).

In 1936, M.T. Garvin died of a heart attack at age 76. His store would continue for another 39 years.

Garvin’s tee

Our Garvin’s tee debuted at the April Creatively Lancaster show. Older shoppers were drawn to it; some had been customers or worked there. From them I learned that Garvin’s was among three downtown department stores, joining Hager’s and Watt & Shand on King Street. (How’s this for coming full-circle: Bon-Ton ended up at Park City through its purchase of Watt & Shand in 1992.)

When you bought something at Garvin’s, in the early days at least, you gave your money to a clerk who then put it into a pneumatic tube that was whisked away to a central cashier. The cashier would provide the appropriate change and send it back to the clerk.

One man told me that he worked at Garvin’s in two stints in the late 1950s, early 1960s. He said there was a small grocery in the basement, but the food warehouse was on the sixth floor. The goods could be moved to the basement by means of gravity, winding down a spiral chute.

One day he grabbed a piece of cardboard and road down the chute, only to land embarrassingly at the feet of the store president.

The man’s wife joined him toward the end of our conversation. “Did you tell him about the most important thing that happened to you at Garvin’s?” she asked.

He met her, she explained, during the several years she also was a Garvin’s employee.

By the 1970s, downtowns began to hollow out, in part because shopping tastes shifted to shiny new enclosed malls such as Park City Center, which opened in 1971. The end came for Garvin’s in November 1975, the Lebanon Daily News citing the high cost of doing business, high interest rates on bank loans, the calling of a bank loan, and disruption of the business by local construction among the reasons for the store’s closing.

For 118 employees, the closing meant lost jobs. For Lancaster, it was the loss of a downtown institution after 129 years.

But 44 years since the closing, the Garvin’s name is back in a small way on our tee. And the old Garvin’s store is coming back, too, as the new headquarters for Woodstream Corp., a maker of pest control and lawn and garden products that is relocating 180 jobs to the site from Lititz.


Checking our list: Here's where you'll find Stay Apparel this holiday season

AppearancesNeal GouletComment
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There’s no place like home for the holidays. And Stay Apparel is all about home, offering cool U.S.-made tees featuring our hometown of Hershey, as well as Harrisburg, York, Lititz, Lancaster, Philadelphia.

And for the man who’s headin' for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie, we offer our mouth-watering Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful tee.

We’re gearing up for a big holiday season, packing the Stay sleigh full of awesome U.S.-made clothing and accessories perfect for all your gift-giving needs. And if you live in central Pennsylvania, you’ll find us popping up near your neck of the woods throughout November and December.

We love meeting customers in person, so come and Stay for a while with us (admission is free unless otherwise noted):

Nov. 3: Harrisburg Flea from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Strawberry Square, 320 Market St., Harrisburg.

Nov. 17: Central Market in York, 34 W. Philadelphia St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the community stand.

Nov. 24: Creatively Lancaster from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Spooky Nook Sports, 75 Champ Blvd., Manheim.

Dec. 1: Harrisburg Flea from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Strawberry Square, 320 Market St., Harrisburg.

Dec. 1: York Flea from noon to 5 p.m. in Cherry Lane Park, York.

Dec. 7: Downtown Hershey 2018 Holiday Market from 5 to 8 p.m. in ChocolateTown Square Park.

Dec. 7: Hockey Night in Hershey at Hersheypark Arena, premiere of the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society documentary, “B’ars to Bears: Hershey’s Hockey Dynasty.” (Admission fee)

Dec. 8: Creatively Lancaster from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the former Bon-Ton space at Park City Center.

Dec. 15: Creatively Lancaster from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the former Bon-Ton space at Park City Center.

Dec. 15: Central Market in York, 34 W. Philadelphia St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the community stand.

Dec. 22: Creatively Lancaster from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the former Bon-Ton space at Park City Center.

Of course, if you can’t come to us in person, we sell everything online and offer fast, affordable shipping ($5 per order, free for purchases of $75 or more in the contiguous United States).

You'll also find a limited selection of Stay items at these fine local retailers: Hershey Pharmacy & Gifts, Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society, and Knock Knock Boutique, Hershey; Arthur & Daughters, York; and Spotted Owl Boutique, Lititz.