New vintage T-shirt business connecting customers to Dowagiac’s past

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

DOWAGIAC — A pair of Dowagiac residents have teamed up for a business venture that is reconnecting customers with the community’s storied past.

Friends Eileen Crouse and Eric Stovern recently opened Doe-Wah-Jack Tee Co., a throwback t-shirt business offering a variety of t-shirts featuring former prominent businesses from the Dowagiac and Sister Lakes communities.

The roots of the business endeavor started months ago when Crouse and Stovern were talking about former businesses in the community. Stovern – who used to own the screen printing business Novel-Tees in downtown Dowagiac – and Crouse decided to create Doe-Wah-Jack Tee Co. as a way to engage Dowagiac’s history. Crouse handles the business website and Facebook page while Stovern takes care of t-shirt production.

“I actually printed shirts for some of these when they were in business,” Stovern said. “I ran across a (Cottage Tavern) screen and I made a few of them and people said ‘you need to do that.’ I never did much about it until we started talking about it.”

“I didn’t want to make shirts and ship them. I want to do the website and Facebook and all of that,” Crouse said. “It’s the perfect partnership.”

The business made its debut at the Dowagiac Summer Festival and BBQ Competition, where it was a hit with customers.

“We were hoping we might sell 50 shirts and we more than doubled that,” Crouse said. “We posted on Facebook and people came in from all over the area just to get the shirts.”

According to Crouse, many of the customers who have purchased the shirts are former owners of the businesses or descendents of former owners.

“They’ve actually thanked us for doing this because it brings back fond memories and great nostalgia,” she said. 

While business is booming, Crouse and Stovern have enjoyed connecting with the community through the business. 

“It’s fun to see people come up and stare at them,” Stovern said. “I ask them if they recognize any of those and they say ‘all of them,’ ‘I got kicked out of there,’ ‘I met my wife there.’” 

While the duo may consider expanding their business beyond Dowagiac at a future date, they will not lose sight of their mission.

“We’ll see where it goes but it’s more than just about making t-shirts. It’s really about memories and nostalgia and it’s been great. It’s been fun to talk to people.”

For more information, follow Doe-Wah-Jack Tee Co. on Facebook. To order online, visit