Silk screening for a new generation
by Sally Mitani
Chris and Dave Fichera founded Stucchi's ice cream in 1986. They sold the company in 2003 but kept the pole barn on Jackson Road that had been their ice cream factory. A few months ago, they put up a retail-like sign there and built a showroom for another venture, iTOPS. "It's a test phase," Chris cautions. "We're not really here for retail," but they have regular hours and a cash register, and sell things in any quantity to passersby. It's retail by most people's standards.
Chris says that he's always had an interest in graphics work, which led him to learn "old-school silk screening." He began printing T-shirts for other people, "but I thought there might be a niche for some of our own ideas." iTOPS is a registered trademark (he says he hasn't yet had any trouble from the iLawyers over at Apple), and the brothers sell iShirts for any sport or leisure activity they can think of. And they're still thinking: iFiddle, iGolf, iRock, iFish. "It's like making up ice cream flavors," says Dave. They also have a line of Ann Arbor-themed iShirts featuring the Arb and Burton Tower.
Guess who is helping them? None other than Adrian Cleypool of Adrian's T-shirts (see Up Front, p. 9). "Adrian printed our very first Stucchi's T-shirt," says Chris. "Now he's teaching us how to do printing."
iTOPS, 6033 Jackson Rd. 327-4867. Mon.-Fri. 10:35 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sat. & Sun.
[Originally published in August, 2013.]