South Knoxville business takes screen printing a step further

South Knoxville business takes screen printing a step further

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"We try to keep our prices fair to where people can make a living, but still not over the top. The money goes back into doing what we are doing," Bob Riehl said. "We try to keep our prices fair to where people can make a living, but still not over the top. The money goes back into doing what we are doing," Bob Riehl said.
Borderland Tees signature item Borderland Tees signature item
The business now offers bike billboards. The business now offers bike billboards.

By KRISTIN FARLEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - If you need custom-made T-shirts, hats or a billboard to promote your business or club, a unique place in Knoxville makes them all while helping others.

Bob Riehl helped start Borderland Tees two years ago.

He's technically retired, but you'd never know it. Riehl is at the South Knoxville business most days, producing T-shirts for a lot of familiar places.

"We supply souvenir shops in the Smokies and in Florida and then we have clubs, teams and churches," Riehl said.

Borderland's work can also be seen at several downtown Knoxville businesses and a North Knoxville market that moved to a new, larger location on N. Central Street. 

"We just recently did aprons and things for Three Rivers Market that just opened their new store," Riehl said.

In fact, while our crew was there the screen for the market's staff shirts and aprons was still on the press.

Borderland is doing so much more than its locally made T-shirts.

Riehl and Minister Jenny Arthur came up with the idea of opening Borderland, where people who may have difficulties and are often homeless can work and get some help.

"The thing that really got this off the ground was this friend named Dan who is a paranoid schizophrenic came to Jenny at the church and asked for help," Riehl said.

"Our idea is to help people become independent, and here we give them a phone number, a place to stay, help with processing of ID cards, food stamps," Riehl explained.

Over the last two years, the business has expanded and now offers bike billboards. Its first client was the legendary Regas restaurant, and last week we spotted them promoting Blue Slip Winery in the Old City. 

"It's more like a gorilla kind of advertising because people don't know where it is coming from," Riehl said of the rolling billboards. "All of a sudden they see Blue Slip winery in front of their face and ask where is it?"

The billboards have been used to raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, for political campaigns and even in a few un-orthodox ways.

"The funniest one we did was for a company doing medical experimentation. They were actually looking for guinea pigs for male contraception. We naturally had a hard time with getting the UT guys interested in that," Riehl said with a chuckle.

No matter the project or product, Riehl says the important thing is to keep prices really reasonable so the program can keep helping those in need.

"We try to keep our prices fair to where people can make a living, but still not over the top. The money goes back into doing what we are doing," Riehl said.

In the next few weeks, Borderland Tees will expand again. They're remodeling a new room at the front of their shop for Borderland Clayworks, where local pottery and other items can be displayed and sold.

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