April 21 2010 12:00 AM

Local businesses to sell T-shirts for fire-damaged Old Town record shop

For Ted Wilson, owner of Replay Entertainment Exchange and Michigan Shirt Works, having a business lost to a fire hits close to home.

In 2006, Replay experienced a fire at its former Old Town location.

So, Wilson has designed a T-shirt that he will sell to help out the owner of Uncle Sam’s Record Emporium in Old Town. A fire in the basement of the building on April 15 caused the store to be closed indefinitely. The store is located at 100 E. Grand River Ave., at the intersection of Washington Avenue. Uncle Sam’s was the only music store selling new and used vinyl records in Lansing.

“I kind of understand what he’s going through on a guttural level,” Wilson said.

The shirts, which feature the record store’s modified Uncle Sam logo, and the slogan, “I want you to save Uncle Sam’s Record Emporium,” cost $15 and will be sold at Old Town’s Golden Harvest restaurant, Mac’s Bar, Stober’s, Flat Black and Circular, The Record Lounge/Scavenger Hunt and Replay. (Golden Harvest, too, knows about fires: a September 2006 blaze caused $70,000 in damage, and the popular restaurant was closed for almost three months.)

Wilson said he ran into Uncle Sam’s owner, Sam Makula, on the Saturday after the fire and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Wilson also owns Michigan Shirt Works, a T-shirt company.

“I said, ‘If I got your permission, would you let me do save Uncle Sam’s T-shirts?’” Wilson said.

Wilson said he expects the shirts to be available at participating businesses by Thursday, and will sell them as long as Makula needs the help. Makula was not immediately available for comment.

Of course, Wilson said, if people want to donate to save Uncle Sam’s without buying a T-shirt, they can do that, too. The Web site www.MichiganShirtWorks.com will host a section where anyone can donate money through Pay Pal to the cause. And, if you show up at a venue selling the T-shirts and they don’t have your size, Wilson said you can order one online.

“As long as people keep donating, we’ll keep printing them,” Wilson said.