BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s no secret: since opening its doors, Oxford Pennant has found a creative way to keep Buffalo manufacturing alive.
Chances are, you’ve seen their products at a sporting event, a concert, or even on some clothing.
“The original idea for Oxford Pennant was that we would make pennants that had different Buffalo sayings on them, take them to festivals, make beer money, drink the beer and then go on with our lives,” said co-founder Dave Horesh.
In the past decade, Oxford Pennant has seen major growth. The concept started as a conversation in a car between two colleagues.
“My business partner and I, 11 years ago, were working together. He was a temp and I was training him, and the second day on the job I was in the car with him and we were just bonding, getting to know one another, and we talked a lot about shared love of nostalgia and vintage products and vintage music and those sort of things,” Horesh said. “He and I were just instant friends.”
Combining their talents together, Horesh and Brett Mikoll put $2,000 on their personal credit cards, launching Oxford Pennant. The idea came from their appreciation of a product outsourced overseas decades ago.
“Brett and I felt like this was an item that was largely forgotten by the modern sports marketing landscape,” Horesh said. “It really started with sports and kind of gradually progressed into music, and we just felt like it was an item we knew we could figure out how to make.”
Simple phrases, logos and designs are things that set Oxford Pennant apart from others in the industry.
Whether it’s a flag or a banner, from special occasions to music groups — and even Sesame Street — there’s a pennant for almost anybody. But their favorite features a chant Western New Yorkers know by heart.
“The most important design to us is our Let’s Go Buffalo pennant. We sold the most of them; it’s the first pennant we made. You’re starting a pennant company in Buffalo, you have to have a Let’s Go Buffalo pennant,” Horesh said.
Almost 60 people work at this closed-loop company, meaning every cut, stitch, print and package is done by the employees at the Main Street business.
It starts with a design. Once that’s approved, the raw piece of felt is cut before going to screen printing. The sewing team stitches the item together, ultimately sending it to the hands of the fulfillment crew who packages and sends out the product.
The entire process, Horesh said, taking roughly four weeks from design to the doorstep. The company is on pace to do 250,000 printed items this year.
And besides a handwritten thank you note, each pennant comes with something special: a tag proudly displaying where the item was made.
“The back of everything we make says ‘Made in Buffalo.’ It doesn’t say ‘Made in USA,’ it says ‘Made in Buffalo’ because Buffalo’s reputation is a hardworking, tough town,” Horesh said. “We want folks to know that we’re proud of the way that we live here, and we’re proud of our manufacturing prowess. And even though you might buy a pennant from Oxford Pennant in Tokyo, it traces its manufacturing lineage back to this city.”
That pride in manufacturing is now leading the company into their next big move — literally. With plans to close up the retail space at 731 Main St., Oxford Pennant is moving everything into their building down the road at 810 Main by spring/summer 2024.
“We’re going to reopen with a retail store here and really treat it like a factory store. Under certain hours, we’ll make sure people can come in and walk around and we can give them a tour,” Horesh said. “You see a sandwich being made, you see sushi being made, but Americans don’t see items being manufactured anymore. And we want to open up our facility to show people we are making a product that is of an international caliber on Main Street in Buffalo.”
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