South Detroit t-shirt really sings

Between the seventh and eighth inning of every Detroit Tigers home game fans will hear the song Don’t Stop Believin’ blare over the stadium’s PA system.  Detroit Red Wings fans hear the song during the third period of games.  Crowds at Comerica Park and Joe Lewis Arena both chant “SOUTH DETROIT” in time with the song at the top of their lungs. 

Even sportswriters find the reference funny.  Freelance sportswriter Dave Hogg and Matthew B. Mowrey, a beat writer for the Oakland Press, both take to Twitter during the break between the seventh and eighth innings to make jokes about what would happen if the baseball game were really played in South Detroit.

For denizens of metropolitan Detroit we all know there is no such place as South Detroit.  Windsor, Ontario, is south of the city.  That’s why Chris Olson, founder of the t-shirt company South Detroit, LLC calls the reference a big inside joke.

“It’s kind of like the ultimate inside joke, but it’s an inside joke for the region,” he says.

One night a few months ago, Olson and a few friends were joking about the South Detroit reference.  He decided to express his amusement with the lyrics by creating a t-shirt.  He wore the shirt to Eastern Market on his way to grab
breakfast where he was stopped several times by people asking where he found the shirt.  

The same thing happened that night when he was with friends at the Tigers game.  A cameraman found him and while Don’t Stop Believin’ was playing, pictures of Olson’s shirt appeared on the Jumbotron scoreboard in left field.  After the game, he joined his friends at the Steely Dan concert at the Fox Theater, where people stopped him asking where they could get the shirt.

That night he knew he had an idea with potential.  He immediately created a company called South Detroit and started taking orders from the people who insisted on giving him their phone number.  Since it is a new business he has been hand delivering many of the t-shirts to customers.  His travels have rekindled a desire to live in the city again after hearing how enthusiastic people are about the city’s prospects.

“The really cool part about doing hand delivery of the shirts is finding that the people who are most interested in the shirts are also very positive about the city,” he says.

Ironically, Olson jokes that his company is an educational campaign for knowing geography. It seems that the pen behind the song, Steve Perry who was the lead singer for Journey when the song became popular, finally learned his geographic lesson.  In an interview on the CBC program The Q on July 20, 2009, he admitted he picked the phrase South Detroit without realizing it was really Windsor.

“I tried north Detroit, I tried east and west and it didn’t sing, but South Detroit sounded so beautiful. I loved the way it sounded, only to find out later it’s actually Canada,” Perry said.

Luckily for Olson, Windsorites like his shirts too.

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