Florida Trend Business Profile
Guy Harvey and the Art of the Deal
Guy Harvey's fish paintings have made his T-shirts and name synonymous with fishing and Florida's casual lifestyle. Can he push the brand nationally?
A dark SUV pulls up to a Beall’s department store in northeast Tallahassee and deposits Guy Harvey at the front entrance. It’s a Sunday afternoon in December and more than 100 people are lined up inside, waiting to have Harvey put his distinctive, long-stemmed signature on the T-shirts and posters they are carrying.
It’s a diverse crowd: Suburban moms towing toddlers, tanned 50-something men, college girls in running shorts, a Marine in his dress blues, teenage boys and grandparents hunting for Christmas gifts.
Some have arrived hours early to get a better spot in line. After Harvey settles in for the two-hour signing, one particularly rabid fan approaches.
John Davidson drove 440 miles from Memphis, where he builds airplanes for Lockheed Martin, to Harvey’s appearance in Pensacola the day before. Then he motored on another three hours to Tallahassee to grab a second Harvey autograph.
Harvey recognizes Davidson, greets him warmly and Davidson walks away with another autograph to add to his stash of more than 40 Harvey-signed posters and artwork.
Not all of Harvey’s devotees are as fervent as Davidson, but they continue to swarm to Harvey’s 27-year-old brand, paying premium prices for Harvey-decorated posters, sandals, doormats, dog collars, coffee mugs, cell phone covers, and, of course, his hugely popular fish-emblazoned T-shirts.
The T-shirts, which sell for between $15 and $30, bring in the most revenue, Harvey says, but he won’t disclose how many shirts he sells or much else relating to the financials of Guy Harvey Inc., a nine-employee Davie operation that oversees the licensing of his name and artwork. “We don’t talk about that,” Harvey says.
Steve Stock, Guy Harvey Inc.’s president, is also tight-lipped about the company’s finances, but it’s clear the apparel business is lucrative. Since 2004, Harvey’s sportswear has been manufactured and distributed by the American Fishing Tackle Co. (AFTCO). Bill Shedd, AFTCO’s president, says his company, which employs 75, maintains a staff of five just “to build designs for Guy Harvey” adding design flourishes to Harvey’s painted images. AFTCO, says Shedd, sells “millions” of Harvey T-shirts each year.
Licensing experts say Harvey likely receives a royalty fee of between 8% and 10% of the wholesale cost of his T-shirts. Assuming a wholesale cost of $10, Harvey could pocket about $1 per T-shirt.