Miles and Rita Cook came to Pampa and opened T-Shirts and More in the Pampa Mall on August 23, 1979.
After spending the last decade in their current location at 111 W. Kingsmill and more than 41 years in the business, the couple are selling their business to Kaleb and Becky Snelgrooes and retiring.
“It’s time to retire,” Miles said. “We’d like to do a little traveling. We’re both 74 and just decided it was time.”
Miles said the t-shirt and apparel business has changed dramatically since the 1970s, with customers having more information on the material and technology increasing efficiency.
“The inks have been developed to be more substantial and permanent,” Miles said. “The art process has become way more efficient. The heat presses are more complicated than the original.
“It used to be people looked for transfers to put on the shirt and didn’t care about what kind of shirt it was. Now the apparel is way more important. The soft tees and tri-blend tees have exploded. The people buying them are more informed than they used to be.”
Vinyl cutting devices such as Cricuts have become a new competitor in the t-shirt market, but Miles said retailers such as T-Shirts and More are more suitable for large orders.
“That’s where we stay in front of the game,” Miles said. “Online has obviously become an ungodly problem. But we have had so many loyal customers over the years. I had one in just the other day who had a small quantity of shirts made. She said, ‘I could have gone to Amazon, double-clicked and got them. But the only reason I got these is because of you.’ We’ve had lots of loyal customers.”
It’s those loyal customers that have been the Cooks’ favorite part of owning their business. But it’s also the staff they have had over the years that have made the experience enjoyable.
“We’ve had a lot of loyal people and businesses like Celanese and Hunting-Titan,” Miles said. “The schools have also been loyal. The most enjoyable thing Rita and I have had out of this business is the young ladies that have worked for us. They are all special friends to this day.”
The experience of working with the customers is what Rita will miss.
“You get good ones (customers), you get bad ones but you get some that are absolutely great,” Rita said.
Miles added he will also miss the every day challenge of operating a business.
“It’s a little different every day,” Miles said. “It’s not the same monotonous job. Because we are a personalized service, we don’t do the same thing over and over and over. Coming up with the designs [is a unique part of the job].”
“Some of the requests we get are just, ‘Wow?!’” Rita said. “It’s interesting to see the things people will come up with.”
The last day for the Cooks to own the business will be June 1. After staying a month to help the transition, the Cooks plan to do some traveling.
“We have a viking long-ship trip from Nuremberg, Germany to Budapest planned for next year,” Miles said. “We’re looking forward to that, but we also want to do some traveling within the United States. I’ve traveled a reasonable about, but Rita hasn’t. So we’re going to go see some things together.”
The Cooks will also have more time to spend with their two sons and their grandchildren.
But even with all of the traveling, the Cooks will still call Pampa “home.”
“When we first moved here, we originally planned to open a franchise store in Amarillo,” Miles said. “The Pampa Mall became available before the Amarillo mall. So we actually moved to Pampa and open this store. Our plans were to move to Amarillo because who would move to Pampa.
“We decided we liked Pampa a lot and didn’t want to move. So we didn’t. It’s a good community and we have no plans for leaving.
“We’re glad for it, too,” Rita added. “We love it here.”
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