You know those businesses you see over and over and over again but aren’t really sure what they’re about?
We sat down with Brian Ginsburg to demystify what’s what with W Promotions. Caught some historical Waco gems along the way you’re not gonna want to miss.
What’s something Waco doesn’t know about W Promotions?
Where we are, who we are, what we do.
(Lots of laughs. This is gonna be a fun interview.)
We are the best secret in town! A lot of people know our name but our name doesn’t tell all.
Some people come in and they’re buying t-shirts all day, some people come in and they may be ordering pencils but may not know the other things we do. (Waaait for it to hear the specific things they do do.)
We try to be a one-stop shop for anything you want to put your name on.
How did your business get its start?
My grandfather, Jake, came to Waco from New York in 1907. He opened NY Tailors in downtown Waco. They made custom, tailored clothing.
Dad started working there when he was 14; that was about 1930. They worked there together, always in downtown Waco.
In 1945, there was a pawn shop that came up for sale next door and they bought that, making the company name NY Clothiers and Loans. My whole growing up, it was a clothing shop and pawn shop – kinda weird. Always interesting.
My dad, Harold, and I would go to Dallas every quarter trying to pick out what men would wear. It wasn’t my expertise.
Everyone thought, since we sold specific types of clothes, they could pawn their leather and fur clothes. They’d come in, ‘Can I bring my fur coat in and pawn it?’
We were like, ‘No,’ he chuckles again. I had an interesting childhood. It was fun.
We did clothing and the pawn shop through 1981 when I got out of college.
Where’d you go to college?
Engineering Route to Business was what they called the degree at the University of Texas. It was basically an industrial engineering degree.
is that The only time you’ve left Waco?
Yes. My four-year vacation.
After I graduated, we started carrying postal uniforms. A guy I knew was doing that was getting out of the business so I bought in with a $3500 investment in postal uniforms. And then we got into EMS uniforms, lab coats, scrubs… at one time we had fully stocked store full of scrubs. Police uniforms, sheriffs, scrubs. We still carry all of that, it’s just not our primary business.
So, anyone who needed a uniform – public safety and medical uniforms – would find it here. We stopped the men’s clothing and became a uniform store and a pawn shop. We grew the uniform business, then grew the embroidery, and phased out the pawn shop 15 years ago.
Then we were doing uniforms and contract embroidery.
That’s how I met Trent Weaver, one of my two business partners – the third’s Davin Alexander.
I met Trent about 11 or 12 years ago. He was doing screen printing and commercial, promotional products (koozies, pens, stress balls). The person he was using recommended us for embroidery. So we merged because it all had to do with putting your name on something!
How’d you end up in this location on Austin Avenue?
Trent and I both had buildings downtown but neither of them perfect for the business once it merged so we went looking for a building. Funny story, we found this sign and car wrap business working out of where we are now, on Austin Avenue. We liked the building and we ended up buying out the business to gain another two services to offer folks. That was in 2008.
So, What is your primary business?
Screen printing, car wraps, signs, banners, and embroidery.
(You heard it here, people. Repeat after me: screen printing, car wraps, sign…)
Why do you love Waco?
I grew up here. It is a great place to raise children. As I said, I went to college, came back to run the family business.
Since then, it has evolved – in the last 10 years. I have been involved downtown on different boards and stuff. I feel that I’ve been able to contribute and help be a part of the growth the last seven years because I’ve been waiting all my life for it.
When I grew up, downtown was thriving. All the main stores were downtown. We did okay in specialty clothing until Dillard’s opened up and other big department stores started opening.
In the 1970’s a government, urban renewal plan was put into play. I don’t know what the plan was but many of the stores downtown left. They closed down streets, planted trees, and it pretty much killed downtown.
For the last 30-40 years, downtown Waco has been pretty dead. They tried to revive it by making one-way streets and then changed some of them to two-way streets. All the department stores and jewelry stores left. Everyone went west, but in the last 10 years, we have seen it come back! We are now the number one tourist city in Texas!
I have been downtown all my life since I was little. I have been here a long time!
merging a few businesses successfully is not always the case, right?
It has worked out well. We have a unique business. It made us grow quite a bit. When one isn’t doing well, the other one is. We are diversified. Let’s put it that way.