Thunder retailer in Oklahoma City stays off NBA Finals 'bandwagon'

Tree & Leaf Clothing, known for its unofficial Thunder parody shirts, sold out of gear weeks ago.
BY CELIA AMPEL campel@opubco.com Modified: June 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm •  Published: June 14, 2012

Companies all over the city are capitalizing on the Oklahoma City Thunder's NBA playoffs run, but one retailer isn't buying in.

Tree & Leaf Clothing sold out of Thunder gear when the second round of playoffs started, and it hasn't printed more since, co-owner Dustin Gilpin said.

“I can look at our rack now, and I think I've got six or seven shirts on there,” he said, adding that those shirts are in hard-to-sell sizes such as extra-extra-large.

Gilpin said the store, at 8405 N Rockwell Ave., certainly has the demand for more of its unofficial Thunder parody shirts, which recently passed an NBA check for copyright or trademark infringement. He said he probably turned away 150 to 200 people Saturday.

But he wants the shirts to mean something to the people who already have them.

“There's part of me that's like, ‘We could be making a lot of money,' but the other part is we have to retain our integrity as a small business,” he said.

Gilpin said the customers who are coming in now are not the usual people who visit the store. He doesn't want to call them “bandwagon fans,” but he refuses to be a bandwagon retailer.

The people who shop at Tree & Leaf have a sense of pride about the originality of the shirts, which includes a James Harden-inspired design with a printed-on beard that can be held up to the wearer's face, Gilpin said.

“People see them on the street and they're like, ‘Dang, I tried to get that shirt,'” he said.

The company, which has a partnership with DailyThunder.com, offers four to five designs each season, Gilpin said.

Tree & Leaf printed a special shirt for the playoffs, but when that was gone, the shop stopped printing.