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US T-Shirt Retailer ‘Big Frog’ Expanding into Canada with 1st Storefront

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American T-shirt retailer Big Frog is expanding into Canada with its first store in Edmonton and more locations to come across the country.

Jessica Eggert, Director of Communications with Big Frog Canada, said the company has initially been focusing on Alberta, primarily Edmonton and Calgary, for the retailer’s launch across the country. It has been advertising to raise awareness of the brand and the opportunities for franchise locations.

“We’re focusing in Alberta right now but we’ve had interested people from Ontario that we’ve had conversations with and BC as well. The plan is to be right across Canada,” she said.

The exception is Quebec due to its franchising legislation.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More (Rendering: Big Frog)

Big Frog is a high-tech, light manufacturing retail garment decorating boutique. 

Tina Bacon-DeFrece, Big Frog Franchise Group President & CEO, said the retailer has 80 locations in 26 states in the US. 

The company started franchising in 2008. Bacon-DeFrece had started her first store in 2006 in Clearwater, Florida.

“It was a neighbourhood T-shirt shop that my husband and my partner (Ron) developed just to be part of the community and service schools and non-profits and small businesses,” said Bacon-DeFrece.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More (Rendering: Big Frog)

“We are essentially a specialty retail boutique where we’ll do a custom shirt  . . . We bought one of the first prototype garment printers that uses garment dye that actually dyes the image in the shirt.”

The printer allowed customers to buy just one shirt at a time and the concept caught on. The local news featured the retailer because no one was doing it at the time. 

“So essentially a customer can come in and they’re able to work with a professional designer, get a custom shirt done for $20, $25. It’s no longer you have to pay someone $300 to do artwork, set up, do all the colour charges. They get a completely custom product that they designed themselves with our help for $20, $25,” said Bacon-DeFrece.

Brian and Shannon Marowitch are opening the first Canadian store in early July in the Windermere community in southwest Edmonton. It will be located near the West Edmonton Mall, just off the busy Anthony Henday road and close to Calgary Trail and the airport. The store will be in a brand new strip mall, kitty corner from the Windermere Crossing shopping centre.

Big Frog Franchise Group President & CEO Tina Bacon-DeFrece from Big Frog Custom T-Shirts on Vimeo.

“Very much a high visibility, high traffic, accessible location,” said Shannon, adding that the couple’s goal is to eventually open a second store in their territory. 

“But it’s just one store at a time. We’re focusing on getting the brand out there, getting the excitement going. Summer’s coming and with the vaccination rollout and the protocols being lifted, we’re very excited and we’re ready to go.”

The Edmonton store will offer custom T-shirt work and more.

“This just seemed like a perfect fit (for us). It seemed like a great concept. I think it’s going to be extremely well received in Edmonton. It’s very accessible for the one-off T-shirts in addition to business to business sales. It’s a concept that is not seen in Edmonton or anywhere as far as I know in Canada,” said Shannon. 

Too Many T-Shirts? No Minimum with DTG Printing from Big Frog Custom T-Shirts on Vimeo.

“Since the pandemic, we need something like a Big Frog. We need fun and we need excitement. And we need that froggie spirit. It’s something that we are thrilled to be a part of.”

“And it’s a great work/life balance,” added Brian. “You can put as much time in as you want and get the results that you want and if you want to work really hard you can get even better results. It just seemed like a very nice balance for us and the concept of course is fantastic. And it seems like a fun job too -like you want to enjoy yourself too. And that’s what we’re looking forward to is enjoy meeting all the new customers and just helping them have fun building their own shirts.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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