Case Study: Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint Apparel 


With their show-stopping whole hog bar-b-que, killer smoked brisket, lip-smackin' chicken wings and famous house-made sides, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint gained fame quickly when the first joint opened back in 2006 in Nolensville, TN. Before they knew it, new Joints were popping up all over the mid-state with Martin's Bar-B-Que locations in Nolensville, Mt. Juliet, and Nashville, and eventually owner Pat Martin realized that things were only going to get bigger. He also knew that Martin's "merch" was going to be an integral part of that growth. 

Spunky t-shirts were a fun complement to the Southern smoked meats for which Martin's is known, but with their rapid growth only gaining speed, Fresh Branding realized a need to streamline their merchandising process.

Martin's T-shirts are one of their top-selling retail items.

Martin's T-shirts are one of their top-selling retail items.

In the beginning, Martin's managed their merchandise on a store-by-store basis:

  • Each Martin's GM ordered product directly from the supplier as needed.
  • Direct-from-supplier orders caused a lack of consistency in quality from one batch of shirts to the next.
  • Ordering directly from suppliers led to slow turnaround, since each shipment was printed to order.
  • Lower order numbers (partly due to lack of storage space at restaurants) meant a higher cost per shirt.
  • Orders arrived in bulk, requiring staff to fold, organize, and stock (and refold...re-organize...re-stock).
  • Shirts were often damaged from restaurant elements: smoke, food, spills, etc.

After gaining an understanding of the merchandise system as it stood, Fresh Branding streamlined it into something easier and more efficient.

Today, Fresh Branding oversees the entire merchandise process: selecting a quality item, working with Pat Martin to create the artwork; communicating with vendors to ensure correctness; ordering samples; pushing the product through production; and warehousing the orders once they arrive. Our attention to detail ensures a consistent, quality product every time, and most importantly, makes it easier for Martin's to order, stock, and sell their apparel. 

Here is how Martin's merchandise is managed now:

  • FB works directly with Martin's to design and select on-trend apparel that fits the Martin's brand.
  • FB orders larger quantities of items (which drives down price-per-unit) and manages inventory in FB warehouse.
  • FB oversees and maintains quality and consistency of product.
  • Shirts are private labeled, allowing Martin's to protect their brand and file trademarks in apparel. 
  • Each shirt is individually folded, given a hangtag with a barcode, sealed inside a plastic bag, and labeled with a size sticker. 
    • Individual bagging protects product from the elements in the restaurant, prolonging its shelf-life in store and increasing desirability with customers.
    • Organization expedites sales for employees who can locate shirts easily and clearly.
  • Martin's GM's order products online, via password protected portal in their internal system, and product is available the following day.
  • All of these improvements...and the shirts cost roughly $3 less per unit!

Custom printed label reinforces brand.

Having shirts folded and bagged makes them easy to organize and stock.

Outside size stickers allow for staff to easily locate appropriate sizes as needed.

In addition to expediting the process of creating and fulfilling the merchandise orders, FB also assisted in the setup and sales of the products themselves. FB created new in-store display for t-shirts, allowing customers to view both the front and back, and also fulfilled and organized the restaurants' orders. Finally, FB manages ecommerce and fulfillment for Martin's shirts, in addition to a variety of food and kitchen items.