Double Diamond Tattoo of West Chester drew the image of Atticus for the shop’s Atticus University sweatshirt
“There's more of a sense of pride toward West Chester these days, and people like to buy gifts that represent the quirky, fun, artsy nature of the town,” she said. Polly explained that the demand for handcrafted jewelry and other items made by West Chester artisans has grown considerably. “People love it as a selling point.” Locally manufactured items at KALY include Clay Born Pottery by Nancy Soloman, which is handmade, functional, and sculptural stoneware. No two pieces of Nancy's pottery are painted alike, and all are ovenproof, dishwasher-safe, and microwaveable. KALY also carries ceramics by West Chester's Louise Vance, who combines her joy of gardening, painting, and pottery by creating one-of-a-kind pieces with a unique floral pattern. Polly pointed out the shop’s selection of silk screen-printed marble coasters by West Chester Charlie. Their products are handmade by Jeannie Nelson and Jen Saller, two of Kaly’s employees. Jeannie and Jen started West Chester Charlie a year ago when they saw a need from people who wanted to promote their pride in the town. The shop carries West Chester
Charlie coasters and tee shirts that make great gifts, excellent for WC people who've moved away and still want to represent the town. Jeanie and Jen print hilarious, relatable sayings and quotes on the coasters that cover every mood and are perfect for any office or living room.
May 23 Johnny Dynamite — a/k/a Steve Riek — opened May 23 in 2008 as an online tee-shirt store. Five years later, he expanded to his first brick and mortar shop located at 117 West Gay Street, which is now a hip, funky boutique offering fashionable clothing and accessories for both men and women. The shop exudes an old-school-meets-modern sensibility with an Atari gaming system, vintage lunch boxes, and other fun décor items and accessories. Along with the countless ways in which May 23 can broaden your wardrobe, the shop doubles as a mini record store with rare and limited-edition vinyl records for sale. And as a borough-based retailer, May 23 also carries many locally made products.
Steve’s background is in graphic design, and he creates and prints many of May 23’s shirts himself — but he also gets by with a little help from his friends. “We do all of the printing locally, and we also have some local artists who assist in the design process,” he said. Steve further explained how West Chester street artist Cassius King designed their Rock-Paper-Scissors tee, and that Double Diamond Tattoo of West Chester drew the image of Atticus for the shop’s Atticus University sweatshirt (Atticus is Steve’s adorable Yorkshire terrier who is also the shop’s live-in mascot). Like many other local businesses, May 23 has felt the stiff competition of larger retail operations over the years. “There are so many options out there now. It can be tough to compete in the world of Amazon and discount stores,” Steve said. Although big box stores and online giants are inevitable, where else can you pick up a tee shirt that confesses Aunt Becky Got Me Into West Chester, or a cheeky West Chester tribute tee that reads Gay and High since 1788? Only at May 23. And only in WC.
SEPTEMBER 2019 THEWCPRESS.COM
Voice of the Borough