A big smile covered Nick Motosko’s face Sunday morning as he folded and stacked T-shirts highlighting the NCAA men’s basketball championship matchup between KU and North Carolina set for Monday night.
“It’s great. It’s a fun atmosphere, fun environment. It’s so positive. Everybody who comes in here’s in a great mood,” Motosko said, standing under The Shirt Shack’s blue and white tent in the Checkers parking lot at the corner of 23rd and Louisiana.
There is one part Motosko could do without, though: Kansas weather. He’s not a fan of the cold winds that blew in last week. A generator nearby loudly powered the lights — and some heat — when needed.
Motosko, a resident of Florida who described himself as a self-employed, semi-retired father of four, has traveled to Lawrence six times in the last 20 years to help sell T-shirts for his friend Gene Wayenberg, president of Lawrence-based Sun Creations.
And you can say the shirts Motosko sells really are “hot off the press.” They’re printed in eastern Lawrence.
“The guys were up at 6 this morning making sure everybody has T-shirts for the championship game.”
Motosko said that commitment would continue after the championship game Monday with, he hoped, a lot of Jayhawk championship shirts to hawk. He said he planned to open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday — and tentatively on Tuesday, if the Jayhawks clinch the title.
“Let’s not talk about lose,” he chuckled. “We’ll have national championship shirts first thing in the morning. A couple styles to start. The guys, it’s what they do. They gotta do it fast. They work hard.”
Part of the fun, Motosko said, involves greeting repeat customers who’ve made shopping at the tent a tradition over the years.
“Gene’s had this tent here for a long time. People count on it.”
Customers smiled back at Motosko Sunday morning, giddy about the possibility of KU capturing its sixth national title.
“Do you have the new ones out yet?” a customer asked as she greeted him.
It didn’t take Phillip Howard, a lifelong Lawrence resident, long to find a shirt he liked.
“Gotta have one! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!” Howard said on his way back to the car.
All short-sleeved T-shirts, the adult-sized products cost between $27 and $30, including tax. Adult sizes ranged from small to 3XL, and a limited amount of youth sizes were also available.
The championship game tips off at 8:20 p.m. Monday, April 4.