Startups

One weapon in Wilmington’s revitalization push: Spaceboy Clothing

David Sanchez and his crew think T-shirts (and events and concerts) can help spur growth along Wilmington's Market Street corridor.

The new Spaceboy Clothing location, at 711 Market St., gets more foot traffic. (Photo courtesy of David Sanchez)

Art has always come easy to David Sanchez.
After graduating from William Penn High School in New Castle, Sanchez set his sights on acting and performing in New York City. In 2000, he moved back to Delaware and took a job at a printing facility. There, he learned everything about screenprinting and also a good deal about how to run a business.
“I got tired of doing that and dealing with bosses and having to be at work on time,” Sanchez said.
So he started screenprinting in his basement.
After a year, Sanchez’s father gave him a small investment that would change his path. In 2009, he opened Spaceboy Clothing — which sold vintage clothing, furniture and custom T-shirts — on Kirkwood Highway in Elsmere.
Sanchez hired longtime friend Noah Merenda, a co-owner of the company, to help run the business.
David “Pony” Hallberg also began working full-time as a screenprinter soon after. He had offered to work free for the company since he loved what they were doing, Sanchez said, and after a few months, they were able to hire him.
During that time, the store didn’t get much foot traffic since it was on a highway, but custom orders steadily came in.

We have everything we need in Wilmington as far as setting, but we don't have the people that actually want to stick their necks out and make shit happen.

The Buccini/Pollin Group, Sanchez said, had caught wind of his store after a year or so and offered the guys a discounted space on Market Street in Wilmington. The real estate group, he said, was looking to spur revitalization downtown and thought their unique store would add some character to the city’s main artery.
Spaceboy’s Elsmere lease ran up in 2011. Sanchez and company decided to make the move to Wilmington. They’re now part of a bubbling innovation corridor there.
“It’s been awesome ever since. It’s been the best move,” Sanchez said.
Spaceboy first called 617 N. Market St. home — a narrow but long storefront that allowed for a small venue space to host concerts and events, another one of Sanchez’s passions.
Buccini/Pollin began work on the building, but gave Spaceboy the option to stay in Wilmington. This summer, they relocated down the block to 711 N. Market St.
“The setup is different,” Sanchez explained. “It doesn’t really allow us to do shows and crazy events. We’ve looked into a separate space just for shows, that’s how high the demand is. It’s giving back to the community and creating a place where people could go, have fun and make memories. That’s more important to me than making a big bunch of money.”
The trio recently launched a new YouTube web series called “Shirt Heads,” which chronicles the day-to-day antics at the shop. Sanchez said he hopes the series will draw more attention to the shop itself, and also to the need to foster the arts in downtown Wilmington.

“My main goal is to contribute to the arts and music community in Wilmington,” Sanchez said. “I think we have everything we need in Wilmington as far as setting, but we don’t have the people that actually want to stick their necks out and make shit happen.”
Sanchez said he is thankful the real estate group took a chance on his company and convinced them to call Wilmington home.
“That’s what Buccini/Pollin did for us. They’ve been awesome to us,” Sanchez said. “They understand that’s what it takes to get people here and more people need to start doing that. It will change Market Street and Wilmington drastically.”

Companies: Buccini/Pollin / Spaceboy Clothing
People: Buccini/Pollin / Spaceboy Clothing / David Sanchez
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