Show Pride in ‘609 Life’ With All-Season Local Apparel
What is the 609 Life? It’s fishing and hunting; crabbing and climbing the Barnegat Lighthouse; surfing the waves and hiking the woods; golfing and gambling in Atlantic City. It’s everything that makes living near both the South Jersey shoreline and the Pine Barrens so enjoyable. Some might say it’s local pride, or a state of mind – one that comes with a logo and a line of wearable designs.
The 609 Life brand apparel is a creative outgrowth of NJ LogoWear, the “signs, banners and more” store in Stafford’s McKinley Plaza. The shop will print, engrave or embroider “anything you can put your name on, pretty much,” according to Assistant Manager Kate Krier. The “and more” part falls perfectly in line with the most commonly heard customer feedback, “I didn’t know you did that!” – so much so, owner Randy Campoli wants to make it the company’s slogan. From fish tank backdrops to vehicle wraps, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Campoli grew up on Long Beach Island and now lives in Manahawkin with his wife, Carrie, who helps run the business, along with a handful of staff, including Krier and her daughter Moira. Moira designed the new website (609life.com) and coordinates all the social media promotion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Signmaking started as a hobby for Campoli 25 years ago, he said. For the first two years he just experimented and taught himself the trade. Soon he invested in a vinyl plotter and started putting his art background to work.
Last year, after a long time spent brainstorming and daydreaming, Campoli created his own brand concept, 609 Life, which embodies a laidback, casual, come-as-you-are philosophy that matches both the region and the designer, who admitted he’s “not a suit-and-tie guy.”
“Our logo is a representation of the lifestyle,” Moira Krier said. “Much more relaxed.”
It really started right after Superstorm Sandy with 609 Strong, Campoli explained. His first design was a signpost with the names of all the Island towns.
Now that the 609 Life concept is taking off, the crab shirt is a best seller. An anchor is a beloved symbol for boaters and fishermen, and “winter crew” is a designation with which locals identify.
“People will notice it, and they’ll either get it, or they won’t,” Campoli said.
He has plans for the brand, and he’s eager to see which ones will take shape and how they will manifest.
He’s toying with a design to honor the old Causeway Shack – an icon people associate with childhood or vacation memories. Another idea is to organize a design contest for local schools, to have students interpret and draw up their own 609 Life, with prizes to benefit the winning school district and/or a local charitable cause. A longer-range goal is to open a shop on LBI. He’d even like to develop a smartphone app that will “burp out” specials and discounts when customers come into range.
“I hope this takes off,” he said. Really, he wants to go in any and every direction 609 will take him.
Currently, the 609 Life logo can be found (or special-ordered) on wood planks, hats, shirts, tank tops and beach bags. The merchandise can also be found in the Hand’s store in Beach Haven and in Beach Haven West Marine Supply.
Back on the signmaking end of things, today, having come a long way from his humble beginnings, Campoli’s favorite jobs are the three-dimensional sandblasted pieces that really allow him to flex his creative muscles.
Where custom orders are concerned, Campoli said he’s been known to “take it to the Randy level,” above the level of expectation. “I always like to go the extra mile, if we can.” Two years ago he opened a screen-printing shop in Tuckerton so he can do the printing in-house as a way to save on cost and increase efficiency.
Currently he’s working on a big blue marlin for Exit 63 Seafood that will become a landmark for drivers on East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. In the workshop, shop foreman Stan James and Joe Kindregan applied the vinyl print of the fish, Campoli’s graphic design, to thick MDO (medium-density overlay) signboard that will be sandwiched over metal hardware and coupled with a large sandblasted, pebble-finish Exit 63 medallion.
Other recent outside-the-box projects were a fun lighted interior sign for Not Just Yogurt; the upscale look of the gold-on-black sign for the new Exit 72 American Bar and Grill at the Holiday Inn; the eye-catching red marquee outside of Makers Station Gallery in West Creek; and the laser-engraved beer taps at Pinelands Brewery.
Some of LogoWear’s notable clients include Urgent Care Now in Manahawkin, Amon Construction, Lucille’s Own Make Candies and Causeway Ford. LogoWear also does a lot of work for local Little League teams and St. Mary’s Parish; during the holidays, the orders come pouring in for personalized Christmas stockings (“Oh, the Christmas stockings!”).
Be sure to catch the Campolis and Kriers at the 609 Life table at the Pirates Day festival in Barnegat Sept. 10 and get an exclusive 609 Life pirate shirt.
— Victoria Ford