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‘Come on Irene’ T-shirts a hit in Montauk

Kathleen Doran shows off the

Kathleen Doran shows off the "Come On Irene" T-shirt sold at Salt Box in Montauk. (Aug. 31, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

For shop owner Kathleen Doran, the rush before Tropical Storm Irene hit the Island on Sunday was not just about boarding up her windows and protecting her merchandise. She was desperately trying to meet a sudden demand.

At Salt Box, her silk-screening shop in Montauk, area residents were after her newest design: a T-shirt that featured a storm-radar photo of the hurricane as it moved up the East Coast with the words, "Come on Irene" -- a play on Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1982 hit “Come on Eileen” -- printed over it.

“We did it very last minute,” she said. “But I think everyone was really swept up in the whole fever of the storm coming.”

At a customer’s suggestion, Doran and her business partners, Anthony Dooley and Christine Brown, began printing the shirts a couple days before the storm and selling them at local bars.

“Once one person wore one, they just sold like hot cakes,” she said. “Even when I was packing up for the storm people were filing in and asking for them. We printed on everything blank we had in the store.”

They sold out their stock of about 200 shirts, at $20 apiece, and still had people calling for more.

“It was a very successful hurricane venture,” she said.

Doran opened Salt Box in May and the shop’s typical wares feature graphic designs by herself, her partners and local artists. They also do silk-screening for other local businesses.

Doran said business has been good this summer and the community really took to the idea of her shop, which she described as a communal space where people can view the merchandise as they would art at a gallery. The hype over the Irene shirts was a funny surprise, however.

“People get excited about stuff like that,” she said. “And when you put in to the form of a T-shirt that everyone is wearing, it becomes a play on the whole experience.”

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