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How a T-Shirt Company Capitalized on King James' Return

When news broke Friday that LeBron James was returning to Cleveland, Fresh Brewed Tees was ready.

Four years ago, LeBron James upset the city of Cleveland when he joined the Miami Heat. But all seemed forgiven last Friday, when he announced he was coming home.

Fresh Brewed Tees, a small apparel company in James' hometown, was ready. Not only had the company printed several custom tees, it had a plan B when its website crashed within minutes of James' announcement. The company set up meeting points around Cleveland where people could buy their shirts. How did customers know where to go? Twitter. 

With 20,000 plus followers, reaching customers wasn't a problem. And Fresh Brewed Tees' grasp of the medium was uncanny: photos of empty boxes made the tees seem like a hot commodity, while selfies of happy customers modeling their "For6iven" shirts was the ultimate endorsement.  

Fresh Brewed Tees owner Tony Madalone told Fox Sports he began prepping a week ago. He came up with the "For6iven" design that switches the G with the number 6, LeBron's jersey number with the Heat, then teased the shirts last Wednesday on Twitter. "If it happens, ya'll. Coming soon, #FOR6VEN RETWEET" The tweet was shared almost a thousand times. 

Within five minutes of James' announcement, "we sold all of our inventory--over 2,000 shirts in just a couple of hours," Madalone told Fox via text message. "We're printing 2,500 through the night to keep up."  

It just goes to show, while Instagram might be all the rage for small businesses, it can't hurt to try Twitter too. Just get your timing right.

Last updated: Jul 14, 2014

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.

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