This past Friday, after four years of operating in Union Station, TTC Transit Stuff—the poorly located, perpetually closed, and universally disdained TTC swag store—closed its metal shutters for what might be the last time.
Transit Stuff was opened in 2006 by Legacy Sportswear, a Woodbridge-based apparel outfit, to better make use of the company’s TTC merchandising contract, which it was first granted in 2000.
Since then, it’s received mostly negative attention over the years (if it’s received any attention at all). After it opened, Eye called the shop “a sort of CNE-grade t-shirt store”; BlogTO referred to the merchandise as “ugly, boring, bland and painfully unfashionable”; and former Torontoist contributor Kevin Bracken wrote that “you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it.”
In four years, nothing changed. In its dying days, Transit Stuff’s shelves were still stuffed with cheap apparel with designs that looked like they were stolen from the 1980s (not in the good way), with knick-knacks, and sweaters for the Leafs, Raptors, and Blue Jays. Perhaps the most authentic part of the store was its grimy interior and utilitarian layout, which managed to perfectly capture the worst of the TTC’s aesthetic.
TTC Transit Stuff t-shirts.
While Transit Stuff is gone for now, its future remains a mystery.
We tried contacting Rick Ferri, Legacy’s owner, but he didn’t respond to our requests for an interview. In fact, the only person at Legacy that we were able to reach was the former salesperson who operated Transit Stuff. She told us that her boss said that the store was closing because of the upcoming renovations to Union Station, but she wasn’t sure about the store’s future, or Legacy’s. At the moment, the company’s website is down, and nobody’s answering their phones. Not a good sign.
We also contacted Danny Nicholson, the TTC’s corporate communications supervisor. He confirmed that Transit Stuff was closing at the end of May, but wasn’t able to shed any light on Legacy’s plans.
TTC Transit Stuff buttons.
As it stands, the TTC’s current licensing contract with Legacy is set to expire at the end of 2011. Instead of renewing it again, the TTC should find a company with a little more imagination and set them up with some nicer digs. (Perhaps a place where you won’t have to pay a fare to enter?)
TTC merchandise is never going to be a cash cow—according to Nicholson, the TTC only made six thousand dollars from its deal with Legacy in 2009—but it still has value as a means to help resuscitate the the TTC’s weakened brand. The commission’s recent support for independent entrepreneurial projects, like Spacing‘s station buttons or Torontoist’s custom tees, is a welcome change from its old cease and desist tactics. But it’s simply not enough. The TTC needs a centralized location, like a store, or at the very least a page on its website, where transit enthusiasts can buy TTC-branded goods. The TTC has its fans, so why not make it easier for them to show their love?
TTC Transit Stuff photo by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist. All TTC merchandise images are from Legacy Sportswear’s now defunct website. Hat tip to Ed Drass for the discovery.