As the Warriors win, this Hayward t-shirt shop is working overtime

It takes Castro’s team five days to print 20,000 shirts – more than two days if they work all night, in rotation. But, as he puts it, “the energy of the shirts is exponential.”

Predict wins and losses

If you’re having trouble finding an extra-large gold shirt this summer, Todd Schneiderman is to blame. His Nashville-based company, Something Inked, is the Warriors’ promotional partner. In January, the vice president of sales assessed the national sports landscape and purchased large quantities of color jerseys. The Warriors gold shirts could easily have been Michigan Wolverines championship gold shirts, or Nashville Predators gold playoff shirts, or Indiana Pacers gold shirts… (well, never mind). This year, blue jerseys supposed to be printed for the Los Angeles Clippers, who missed the playoffs, found themselves with Mavericks fans for the series against the Warriors.

Promotional shirts are extra large because, as Castro explains, “a big guy can fit in it, a short person can swear in a dress or in bed, women can cut it like a halter.” Then you don’t have to worry about the sizing issue, which is the biggest challenge with t-shirts.

An employee folds Warriors Finals t-shirts at the Brand Marinade screen print shop in San Leandro on May 27, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Like a Las Vegas gambler, Schneiderman projects game results to help printers have enough time to produce inventory while limiting waste. In the Western Finals, after the Warriors took a 3-0 series lead, Castro printed a batch of “pre-purchased” jerseys in case the Warriors lost Game 4 – they have done – and the series returned to Chase Center for Game 5. The risk is that if the Warriors had won Game 4 to end the series, the jerseys made for Game 5 would likely have been given away at game nights. supervision of the final. The biggest risk, of course, is pre-printing championship apparel for a team losing the title. These shirts are discarded or shipped to other countries.

“I’m a little numb at this point,” Schneiderman says of production determined by a three-point shot from Stephen Curry or a blocked shot from Draymond Green. “It’s more of a feeling of having a stomach ache. The same thing happened with the Grizzlies, when the Warriors had that shitty game (causing a Game 6 at Chase Center).

Schneiderman was unable to procure enough gold shirts for all of the playoffs, so fans were given “Gold Blooded” black shirts for the first two rounds. “It didn’t have the same effect,” he admits.

For Warriors shirt orders, Schneiderman typically works with Blue Frog, a boutique in San Leandro. When Blue Frog had a backlog of orders, the printing company outsourced much of the Warriors project to Brand Marinade. Castro, who founded Brand Marinade in 2009 and had never received such a large order, put less urgent orders on hold and jumped at the chance.

Jeremy Castro, the owner of Brand Marinade, poses for a portrait at the San Leandro screen printing studio on May 27, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

An East Bay operation

Over the past decade, Castro estimates that 50% of local print shops have closed or moved out of the Bay Area for less rent. Supply chain bottlenecks, compounded by the coronavirus shutdown and resulting restrictions, have placed an emphasis on local printing to reduce delivery times.

On Friday at Hayward, an eight-color, 10-station press prints the new “Gold Blooded” design — supplied by the Warriors — onto the front of gold shirts. The freshly printed logo is then dried with a dryer, after which the shirts are stacked and moved to another press which prints a logo on the shoulder of that round’s playoff sponsor. Before the shorts leave the warehouse, they are folded and packaged for distribution to the Chase Center, where they are carefully placed on the seats before fans enter the arena.

On a high shelf in the warehouse, Castro points to a small screen printer once used by his uncle to teach inmates at San Quentin State Prison. Castro received the printer as a gift, and as a math teacher at Alameda High School in 2003, he used it to make Spirit Week shirts for campus.

Ever since, the Alameda native has been addicted to the power of the garment.

Screens for Too Short line a shelf at the Brand Marinade screen printing studio in San Leandro on May 27, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

In 2020, when Mali Watkins, a black man, was tackled to the ground and arrested by Alameda police for dancing in the street, Castro printed “Dancing In The Street For Justice” shirts in protest. During the coronavirus quarantine that same year, he converted his inventory of shirts to masks and donated them all over Oakland with NFL star Marshawn Lynch. When wildfires ripped through the state, Castro donated color-coded shirts to help organize volunteers.

Brand Marinade’s high-profile clients include Lynch, whose Beast Mode garments are synonymous with Oakland culture; Oakland rapper Too Short; and Ruff Ryders, the label of the late East Coast rapper DMX. An influx of potential corporate contracts gives Castro hope to reach a goal of 50 employees and move out of the 15,000 square foot warehouse.

The championship grind

If Golden State reaches a potential title-breaking game, Castro plans to host a staff viewing party at the warehouse. If the Warriors won, Brand Marinade would begin 36 consecutive hours in print to meet retail requirements, along with a victory parade.

Employees fold stacks of Warriors Finals t-shirts at the Brand Marinade screen print shop in San Leandro on May 27, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Manager Nick Haskins is one of the few Brand Marinade employees with championship experience, having worked for a Sacramento store that produced post-season gear during the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 championship.

As for keeping a positive attitude throughout the arduous and often monotonous process, workers rely on “jokes, music and snacks,” Haskins says.

Elizabeth J. Harless