If you attended this year's wonderful East Bay Express Best of the East Bay Party at the Oakland Museum of California last month and stopped by the series of Amoeba Music info & merch booths, you would have no doubt seen the crew from Free Gold Watch busy operating their manual hand-operated silkscreening press, making various Amoeba Music T-shirts right there on the spot. It was a cool set up and all the more impressive considering that it was the first time that the guys from the San Francisco clothing design company had ever taken the large machine out of their hand-operated press. Free Gold Watch custom make other folks' designs on T-shirts, sweatshirts, baby size outfits and more, in addition to creating their own designs.
I had heard a bit about Free Gold Watch here and there, including from the folks over at the Giant Peach, who distribute some of their designs but I really didn't know too much about this up-and-coming Bay Area company, so, impressed by their work and also by what cool, down-to-earth, genuinely nice people they are, I decided to follow up and find out a little bit more about this Free Gold Watch.
The first thing I was curious about was the unusual name for the clothing company, Free Gold Watch, so I asked founder & designer Matthew Henri what the dealio is with the company name. "I was printing watches on the inside all of my sweatshirts and I had a sample sale at [recently shuttered] 12 Galaxies in May of '06 and I made a sign that said 'Free Gold Watch' coz I just wanted to let people know [about] these handy watches inside of the sweatshirts," explained Matt. "So many people asked me, 'What's up? Where's my free gold watch?,' and I said, 'Well, you gotta buy one to find that out. So that night I went home and checked online for the dot com and nobody had it so I registered and that was how Free Gold Watch came about."
Located just one block over from Amoeba Music San Francisco's store at 1767 Waller Street, Free Gold Watch has only been open as a retail store since earlier this year. But since they opened their storefront in San Francisco's Haight District business has increased greatly. Aside from Amoeba Music they count SMC -- the label that puts out music by the likes of The Jacka and Messy Marv as one of their regular clients. However, despite the business that they have built up in San Francisco, in these challenging economic times Free Gold Watch has been experiencing a barrage of hurdles with the sometimes picky City Of San Francisco's Zoning and Planning departments. They are expected to have a hearing sometime before the end of the year to determine whether they will be allowed stay open or not. For more updates on this and how you can support a local independent business, visit the Free Gold Watch website.
Above is Free Gold Watch's Matt and Dr. Goldstein giving a general overview of the business and below is a video of the always entertaining and witty Dr. Goldstein doing a 74 second run through tour of the store in MTV Cribs spoof style.
Free Gold Watch: the quick n fun run-through tour by Dr Goldstein