BY MICHAEL REISIG –
If you’re looking for a place that can provide you, your club, or your organization with great T-shirts and exceptional designs then you need to check out The Shirt Shack. Owner Sharlene Balkenhol loves what she does – creating designs that will catch people’s attention and offering the best quality for a great price.
Balkenhol was born and raised in California, near Santa Rosa. Her mom’s sister and her grandmother lived in Mena, so in 1994 she came here for a visit, and found she liked the place. Balkenhol moved to Mena in 1995.
“I found that I liked the community and I wanted my children to grow up in a safe place like this,” Balkenhol explained. “I worked at Aalfs for several years, then went to college at RMCC and got a two-year Associates degree. While going to school, I worked in the RMCC business office, and it was there I met my husband, Aaron. We dated for about a year and were married. That was almost 11 years ago.”
Balkenhol was a “stay-at-home mom for a while, taking care of their children, but she found herself wanting to get out into the business world and accomplish something.
“I had always felt there was a demand for another T-shirt business in this town and I liked the idea of doing that kind of thing,” she said. “I was a member of the area soccer association as well, and I saw a market there, as well as other sports and organizations in the area.
“So, in May of 2009 I opened a shop in the building with my husband’s computer business at Northside Plaza,” she continued. “Later, we moved our businesses to a location on Mena Street, next to Washburn’s Furniture. Now we offer computer repairs and T-shirt designs and sales in a single location.”
Balkenhol explained that everything she does is custom designed – she doesn’t use former designs over and over again unless requested.
“We provide a quality custom shirt and outstanding artwork, and our customer service is number one for us,” she added. “It’s not easy to please everyone, but it’s what we try to do every day. Although we’ve been in business for over four years, we have new customers coming in every day, and each design is an adventure. It takes several hours to create a custom shirt and it’s quite a process. We have to carefully create a design from the computer, crafting exactly what the customer has requested. We store and save that work immediately, so that it can be drawn from again and again.
“We love doing work for local organizations and we also do some work for area schools,” she continued. “Our quality is top shelf and our prices are a low as possible. We actually don’t mark up the shirts we purchase at all – our customers pay the same price we do. We only charge for our services. We’d love to have everyone come in and see our work. Stop by and let us give you a price on your next project.”