Today, we're delighted to announce that the official PLoS Store is open for business – in time for the holidays. With a large range of t-shirts (including some designed specifically for the season of good-will) and other merchandise, you can let us solve your shopping nightmares. We would encourage all of you to shop the store, spread the word and support our cause.
The PLoS t-shirt phenomenon was started by co-founders Pat and Mike who know that in the lab, comfort is everything. They started producing cool and funky t-shirts to get the word out about PLoS and soon folks started to ask them when new designs would be available.
Realizing this was a popular and unstoppable trend, PLoS started using t-shirts to say thanks to the community for their involvement on our editorial boards. We also gave them away at conferences because it made people flock to our booth and we wanted to talk to them about open access and publishing with us. PLoS will continue to offer free t-shirts to the community – using store revenue to offset some of these costs.
The only problem was that the more popular our t-shirts became, the more labor-intensive life was getting at PLoS's San Francisco office. Often times, Allison, our Marketing Project Manager, had to organize top notch editors and publishers to stuff t-shirts by hand into envelopes (their only compensation was free pizza). On the busiest days, it felt like we had turned into a t-shirt supply company. Something had to give.
Enter Stacy, our new Marketing Intern, with a background in Information Science, a love of PLoS and Open Access, and a burn to learn. Within days of joining, she had selected Zazzle.com, the well respected on-demand merchandise company, as the right partner for PLoS – she even visited their head offices in Redwood City and grilled them for a few hours to make sure they were up to the task. Their 100% satisfaction guarantee, good product reviews, excellent client support, and localized websites that enable lower delivery costs (available in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Canada) also convinced us that this was the right decision.
Having customized the PLoS store herself, in partnership our creative team, Stacy then embarked on a series of product sample tests which involved other members of PLoS taking t-shirts home, wearing and washing them and then reporting back on how well they held up (very nicely).
The final result is a PLoS store that has been as rigorously tested as possible with a pretty extensive product range (including hoodies, kids wear, organic, and fitted women's shirts). Every product is created digitally just for you.
We sent a link to the prototype store to a group of trusted community testers, including Kevin Zelnio, a researcher at the Marine Conservation Molecular Facility at Duke University’s Marine Lab who also blogs on Deep Sea News, the Online Laboratory, and The Other 95%, here's what he said when he saw the store:
"The store looks great, really professional and clean. The designs are strong too. My first reaction was that I was ready to buy the Open Access t-shirt. I like the logo and it makes a statement on a subject dear to my heart. Although I really want a PLoS ONE shirt too. It operates and transitions well, had no hiccups. Being able to choose from a few different colors, and to zoom in on designs is fabulous".
It’s worth knowing that there is only one official PLoS store and it contains images and logos that have been approved by the organization. However, if you search on Zazzle for PLoS you will find products bearing our name that have been created by other individuals because Zazzle allows anyone to start their own store and feature their own designs. You are welcome to shop where you wish but only the official PLoS store contains our approved merchandize.
The plan is to introduce new designs as and when they become available, increase the product range (my son is waiting for the PLoS skateboard), load up cover images, introduce more user customization and make improvements based on your e-mail feedback which we welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.