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Fashion Flashback

Boomtown Tees provides memorabilia-style T-shirts and souvenirs to longtime Tulsa residents, new arrivals, businesspeople, tourists, and students who share a love for all things Tulsa.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Sarah Eliza Roberts
Posted
November 28, 2018

Looking for a fun T-shirt that screams, “I’m from Tulsa” because it features a Tulsa-area icon only a local would know about? Need a Tulsa or Oklahoma-themed souvenir to give as a gift or remember a visit to Tulsa by? Then you’ll definitely — no, seriously, you really must — check out the local, fan-favorite T-shirts and gifts available at downtown’s Boomtown Tees.

JoAnn Frizell, owner of Boomtown Tees, bought the business from its previous owner, Blake Ewing, a few years ago. And she is loving the fun of providing memorabilia-style T-shirts and souvenirs to Tulsa residents, new arrivals, businesspeople, tourists, students — one and all who share a love for all things Tulsa.

Boomtown Tees is conveniently located in the eclectic, entertaining Blue Dome District, which has been seeing some exciting new business growth in recent months. Next door to Boomtown are the popular Max Retropub and the newly minted Rabbit Hole late night pub, for starters. Mixed in with that new, youthful vibe is the iconic retro homage to Tulsa that Boomtown ensures a large portion of its T-shirts highlight.

For tourists and businesspeople just passing through the area, Tulsa and Oklahoma themed shirts are highly popular, and Boomtown carries several cool designs you won’t find elsewhere. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
For tourists and businesspeople just passing through the area, Tulsa and Oklahoma themed shirts are highly popular, and Boomtown carries several cool designs you won’t find elsewhere. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“I have a lot of the same designs that Blake Ewing had in here,” Frizell says. This includes a variety of Tulsa novelty designs featuring the Admiral Twin Drive-In (of The Outsiders fame), the Route 66 highway sign (made famous by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road), and memorabilia only a local would get, like the shirt that says “I rode Zingo,” an homage to the wooden rollercoaster that once thrilled Tulsans at the now defunct Bell’s Amusement Park.

“We always try to do some Tulsa history,” Frizell says. “Of course, I’ve had to change a little bit of it because downtown is seeing some more tourism. So, I’m designing more Tulsa shirts too.”

When it comes to identifying the most iconic theme among Boomtown’s fun and fabulous merchandise, it’s not much of a contest. “Everybody loves the Golden Driller,” Frizell says. “He is by far the No. 1 thing. And when people come in from out of town, they’ll ask me, ‘Where is that?’” She says that often, visitors to Tulsa will learn from her where to see the Driller so they can check it out in person and take pictures.

For tourists and businesspeople just passing through the area, Tulsa and Oklahoma themed shirts are highly popular, and Boomtown carries several cool designs you won’t find elsewhere. Locals, though, tend to favor the logos and icons of their past that may no longer be open, but still live on in hearts and minds — like Bell’s Amusement Park and the Camelot Hotel.

“People like to buy things that remind them of their childhood,” says Frizell. “Even people who are coming back to visit family or go to a wedding, when they come in, they buy a memento T-shirt versus a tourist T-shirt. So I’ve had to find a balance between being a retro shop and a souvenir shop.”

JoAnn Frizell also likes to roll out specials that turn into collectibles and must-haves. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
JoAnn Frizell also likes to roll out specials that turn into collectibles and must-haves. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Designs range from the straightforward — such as a shirt that simply says “Tulsa” — to images that connect with Tulsa’s rich heritage — like the Woody Guthrie shirt, or the shirt in homage to American Western swing musician/songwriter Bob Wills that reads, “Bob is still the king.” In a nutshell, there is something for everyone, from babies wearing Tulsa onesies to adults wearing XXXL sizes. Boomtown sells those sizes and everything in between.

Most of the T-shirt designs at Boomtown are made by Cody Bailey, a local area artist/musician who also runs sound for Peter Frampton and the B-52s. “He does a really good job,” says Frizell. Boomtown also occasionally features designs by other local artists, most notably Zach Raw, whose iconic “Hunk Driller” and “Tulsa Is Fabulous” T-shirts are favorites among shoppers.

Frizell also likes to roll out specials that turn into collectibles and must-haves. “Every month, I do a $10 Oklahoma-themed T-shirt,” she says. “Sometimes, that’s the only time you can get it. Sometimes, I sell them for the regular T-shirt price after the monthly special is over.” You can find the monthly specials highlighted on Boomtown’s website and Facebook page, or just stop in and ask for it.

Frizell’s December monthly tee will be holiday-themed, of course, and available in red and green. She’ll also be selling various Christmas ornaments that make great gifts at ornament swap parties. “I do ornaments where the Blue Whale is actually Santa’s sleigh, and the Tulsa Driller is wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. I’ll make some other ornaments this year too. We do a lot of Tulsa holiday-themed items. They’re fun.”

The holidays are a logical time to visit Boomtown Tees, since there are many unique gift items available there. Other merchandise beyond T-shirts are available for the choosing — sweatshirts, baby onesies, Garden Deva magnets, Blessed Beads bracelets, shot glasses, pens, stickers, salt and pepper shakers, little glitter globes, coffee mugs, Oklahoma-themed jewelry, and more.

Frizell says shoppers can come by the shop to browse the latest merchandise, or if they’re not digging the idea of driving downtown, they can place orders conveniently online. If you’re a business, ask about the custom T-shirts Frizell can design and produce specifically for you. Boomtown’s design work is featured in many local businesses, such as Joe Mamma’s, The Rabbit Hole, and Whiskey 918.

LOCATOR
Boomtown Tees
114A S. Elgin Ave. | Tulsa
918-938-6000
boomtowntees.com
Monday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.