A Badge of Honor


After she was asked by participants at her Box’s Wine & WOD, JoAnna Dettmann, a co-owner of CrossFit St. Louis, designed a sparkly crop top to sell at her gym.

Dettmann said she doesn’t make shirts from every request she receives, but she takes them into serious consideration. “We’re more than a Box at CrossFit St. Louis. We’re a community. We’re a business. We’re not just ‘Hey, this was our garage, we turned it into a gym…’ No, we have the best of everything in our Box,” said Dettmann. “I try to keep that look and feel through our marketing as well.”

Ashley Hartle, a co-owner of BackCountry CrossFit in Littleton, Colorado, who received her master’s degree in marketing, said T-shirts are the only form of marketing that is utilized at the Box. “One of the things that they teach you is word of mouth and referrals is one of the best things you can do for a business. When people are walking around in your gear, then other people see it and ask questions. So they get to learn about it from your current clients, and it’s just one of the best marketing tools that we’ve been able to use,” said Hartle.

Both Hartle and Dettmann offered T-shirts from the first day they opened their Boxes. On their grand opening, BackCountry CrossFit gave away 400 T-shirts to the people who attended, simply for retention purposes. Hartle admitted that while it did require extra finances, it was worth the advertising they received from it.

And Dettmann agreed. While she charges for drop-ins at CrossFit St. Louis, every drop-in gets a free T-shirt. In her mind, the price of the drop-in is going toward the shirt. Then, people from all over the country are advertising her Box.

However an Affiliate decides to allocate money, the Affiliate of CrossFit H-Town, Theo Tsekouras, encourages Boxes to make sure they are receiving a profit on T-shirt sales.“They [should] actually receive at least 25 percent [back], so if they’re spending $10, they should be trying to make $15. So definitely make your efforts worthwhile,” he said.

Selling T-shirts at your Box offers two benefits, according to Tsekouras: bringing in extra revenue and marketing your gym. However, he said if the Box does not have many dedicated members, apparel is not worth worrying about.

No matter what piece of apparel she is selling, Dettmann is sure to have the CrossFit St. Louis logo on each piece. “I think [irregular branding] is part of the problem today with some Boxes that I’ve been to before … And don’t get me wrong, sometimes I will do something funky with the spelling of CrossFit St. Louis, but our mark, if you will, is always on there,” said Dettmann.

In the end, Hartle said that selling T-shirts is worth all the extra work it entails. “We actually get emails from other Boxes that people will come in [wearing] our gear,” said Hartle. “I would just tell any Affiliate that you can’t put a price on your members walking around advertising your Box, because if they’re doing that, they’re proud of it. And they’re going to talk to everybody they see about your Box. And it’s amazing.”

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.