Reporting Mike Campbell
DETROIT (WWJ) - A small business owner says the violence in Detroit is so bad, he’s now making money off of the dead.
International T-Shirts, located at 7 Mile and Evergreen roads on the city’s northwest side, is plenty busy these days — but they’re not making the T-shirts they thought they would be.
“We started the business to do family reunion t-shirts, schools, churches and other businesses,” said owner Marvin Lovejoy. “In the past 11 years, R.I.P. has taken over the business.”
Lovejoy said R.I.P. T-shirts often include a crime victim’s photo with their nickname, birth date and date of death. He said the shirts — worn at vigils, funerals and demonstrations — fill about 85 percent of his orders today.
“As we speak, there are customers in here now ordering R.I.P. t-shirts, ordering for the past two hours since you called,” he said. ”The business is more ran like a funeral home now instead of a t-shirt shop because every time someone gets killed or murdered, our phone rings or people come in to get R.I.P. t-shirts made.”
Lovejoy said horrifically, he even gets repeat customers.
“Oh yeah, that happens. We had two people come in sometime and say someone just got shot and killed on whatever street, and then they come right back and say someone got stabbed and shot in the head at a lounge, or something like that. It’s like oh my God, we get it all the time,” he said.
Lovejoy said sadly, he doesn’t expect to see a slow-down in R.I.P. orders any time soon.
“They’re killing people in Detroit almost every day. Someone gets shot or murdered in the city of Detroit, and the violence and murder rate is escalating higher and higher daily,” he said.
Lovejoy said it is a tough business but he does get some satisfaction providing a quality product and good service with some comfort.
“When the people come in, you can see their demeanor is sad because they lost a loved one or a friend or a relative. So, we try to put a smile on their face to satisfy them by printing off the shirts that they want,” he said.