EagleHerald Staff Writer
PESHTIGO—Jason Malke is a busy guy. He’s a father, a track coach and the owner of Straight Flush Sewer in Peshtigo. Most recently he’s added apparel making to his repertoire with Peshtigo Apparel Co. & More, and will soon be adding even more to this particular endeavor with coffee and ice cream in the near future.
Malke’s base of operations is on Maple Street in what used to be an auto shop. He said he’s been hoping to get the building for a long time. “When it became available, we put in an offer and started thinking of how we can capitalize on this location and make it so that we can have some other things going on here, because otherwise it was just going to be sewer cleaning,” he said.
In his 21 years total in business, Malke said one of the more frustrating things he’s dealt with has been getting shirts made. “Every time I’d get a shirt made, I’d get it and see that it wasn’t really what I wanted. It’d be really thick, uncomfortable shirts where you wash them once and they shrink in the wrong places. I went to lots of different people and there always seemed to be an issue with what I wanted. So I thought, ‘One of these days, I’m just going to do it myself.’ I’m not looking to bash anybody, but a lot of things that went into me wanting to get shirts were annoying,” he said.
Malke said he joined a coaching group and learned that a lot of the coaches in the group had their own shirt printing business. One of the other members offered to sell him a shirt press, which Malke bought along with some designing software. “Now I can be 1,000% self-sufficient. We can make the design, we can print the design, and it comes out really well,” he said.
Malke said he has been making shirts for about six months at this point and has printed shirts for many of the area’s school sports programs, even as far south as Seymour, Wisconsin. But he isn’t just limited to printing shirts. He said he can print onto wood, metal, glass and just about anything else.
“Now here’s the other nice thing,” he said, “Say you have a family function and you order 25 custom shirts. Then you find out last-minute that Aunt Agnes is coming and you need one more shirt. If you go with another company, they’ll say ‘No, we won’t set up our screen for one more shirt, she’ll have to wait.’ If you call us up, you can come down here, grab an ice cream cone and we’ll have another shirt ready for you in minutes. No set-up fee, nothing.”
Malke said he and his wife print all of the apparel that they sell, with the exception of the Nine Line Apparel products. “Nobody else around here has that,” he said.
With the shirt business taking off, Malke’s next project is to add ice cream and coffee. He said that he had put out a social media post asking the other residents of Peshtigo what they thought was needed, and he said that he got a lot of comments saying Peshtigo could really use a place for coffee or for ice cream. So Malke decided to do both. “T-shirts alone I thought was going to be tough. T-shirts and ice cream would make everything a little easier. T-shirts, ice cream and coffee; now we’re a three-headed monster of stuff where if one’s going slow there’s two other things we’re offering, on top of the sewer cleaning business,” he said.
“I graduated from Peshtigo, and I want to see this town do good,” he said. “I don’t want people to have to go all the way to Green Bay, or even to Marinette and Menominee, to get stuff. Why not keep it local?” Malke said.