Wearables Business

Shirts the ace of public school golf benefit – Company Specs – Cheshire Education Foundation

Shirts the ace of public school golf benefit – Company Specs – Cheshire Education Foundation – Brief Article

Nancy Clark

Not every public school district has the tax revenues to deliver to public school kids the same experiences private schools can offer. Tax cuts and increasing operating costs have meant public schools nationwide have had to become increasingly cost conscious. Some music programs have been banished entirely. Foreign language options have been cut back to eliminate Latin as a basic offering. Textbooks are shared. And field trips are essentially a thing of the past.

The Cheshire Education Foundation is fighting back.

Each year the parents and community of Cheshire, Conn., hold a golf tournament in June to raise private funds to support public education. Jerry Barker of Barker Specialty Co. is playing in that tourney. His three children — ages 7, 10 and 12 — attend public school in Cheshire. The funds raised from the tournament mean that the local symphony orchestra can come to the schools to perform. Guest speakers can share their experiences and accomplishments with the students. And field trips are back on the school-year agenda.

“When you consider what each of us pays in tax dollars toward public education, it’s a remarkably large portion of our tax bill. Yet it’s not enough to fund some very necessary activities. Our golf tournament goes a long way to improving public school education. And I’m very happy to contribute to the effort,” says Barker of the $200 per person entry fee. This past year, the tourney raised $25,000 — all of it to enhance the public school experience.

Barker was also involved as the resource for the golf shirts given to each player through his company Barker Specialty Co., a 50-year-old enterprise, located in Cheshire and on the Web at

Barker suggested the Blake & Hollister textured pique multi cord golf shirt in taupe for the event. “Typically people who are not in the apparel business think a golf shirt is a golf shirt,” says Barker. “They don’t know the difference between brands until later on when it didn’t wash well. I suggested the Blake & Hollister knowing it’s a quality shirt. The combed ringspun cotton has a soft feel but washes nicely. And because it was pique, it breathes better on a warm day.”

The taupe colored shirt comes in women’s and men’s sizes and Barker embroidered the Cheshire Education Foundation logo on the left sleeve in forest green, matching the color of the foundation logo. Entrants were presented the shirts when they signed in at the pro shop. “Many people were so pleased that they went inside to the locker rooms and changed into the shirt.”

Even in a charitable event such as this, says Barker, the quality of the shirt is uppermost. “This was a sophisticated audience of people donating large amounts of money. We wanted to give them a nice remembrance of the day.”

In fact, says Barker, if the tournament had cost entrants only $175 and they went away from the day without the golf shirt, they would have felt shortchanged. That’s the same in the corporate world as in the world of charitable giving, he adds. These golfers are one in the same.

The availability of a women’s and men’s shirt in the same style and color was a consideration in the shirt selection process as well. “In this particular tournament, there were a number of women participating. Women will typically look fine in a men’s shirt, but they do look better in a woman s shirt. They just don’t want all that extra material making their rear-end look crumpled. And they appreciate the consideration of being presented with a women’s shirt,” Barker adds.

Dealing with sizing of the players is always an issue in ordering golf shirts. Barker has found that generally it’s appropriate to order 10 percent mediums, 25 percent larges, 55 percent XLs, and the balance double-XLs. But it’s a conversation he always has with tournament organizers prior to ordering. Access to 4XLs and 5XLs (custom sizes) can be essential; another reason he taps into the Blake & Hollister product.

“Ours is one of the few companies in the country with a U.S. manufacturing facility it owns,” explains Roger Stiefel of Blake & Hollister, based in Concord, N.C. That means Blake & Hollister can furnish quick fill-ins when an order demands that. Today, Blake & Hollister sells more XLs than mediums, a trend that applies nationwide. People are taller and broader and want a shirt that fits well, isn’t tight or short.

How did Barker score in the tournament? He’s not saying. “I tell people who ask what my handicap is that it’s my game,” says Barker. No matter. He’s planning to play again next year, with an eye on his children’s educational futures.

Nancy Clark is a Denver-based journalist and a contributing editor to Wearables Business.

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