Charlie’s T-Shirts began as a small store located in the charming mountain town of Vail, Colorado. Founded in 1972 by Charlie Stone, who was a spirited entrepreneur and an avid skier, Charlie’s sold commemorable t-shirts, sweatshirts and other basic ski-related merchandise.
Charlie, however, was much more than a local business owner to JR Melzer, now co-owner and manager of the chain's Denver and Boulder locations. To JR, he was simply and affectionately known as Grandpa Charlie. “Charlie was my godfather, but he was more of a grandfather to me than anything. My father met Charlie when he moved to Vail in the 80’s, and my dad became the closest thing Charlie had to a son and later, me, as a grandson.” Years later, JR’s father, Steve Melzer, took ownership of Charlie’s T-Shirts.
With a familial bond as tight as JR’s with his father and Grandpa Charlie, it is no surprise that he would grow up with the same entrepreneurial spirit and aspirations. In 2008, JR left his mountain hometown to attend the University of Colorado (CU). Throughout his time in Boulder, he grew to love the downtown scene, especially its small-town feel and active lifestyle. “Boulder is the perfect medium between living in a larger city and still having a small town feel.”
JR always envisioned expanding the family business outside of Vail. His vision grew stronger after graduating from CU with degrees in Sociology and Business Entrepreneurship. Looking to try something new and venture outside of his familiar scenery, JR took an expansive leap of faith in the fall of 2013 and opened the first Front Range location of Charlie’s T-Shirts in Denver's Cherry Creek Mall.
That location in Cherry Creek recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and was a successful start to the store’s franchise outside of Vail. After spending time in Denver, JR never lost sight of the downtown Boulder community. “I knew there was a lot of potential on Pearl Street for business and I really missed Boulder.” Years later, in the fall of 2016, JR turned his dream into reality and opened a Charlie’s T-Shirts on the Pearl Street Mall.
Eight years later, JR still manages and co-owns both the Denver and Boulder stores. You can find him regularly enjoying the downtown scene, cheering on the Buffs and handing out candy at the annual Munchkin Masquerade. “The best way to support my business is to continue coming downtown and enjoy the beautiful scenery; shopping at stores; and exploring bars, restaurants and more.”
Charlie’s T-Shirts continue to maintain the ski-loving, charming spirit of its founder, Grandpa Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie has since passed away, but he is never forgotten by JR’s family. “He is missed, but we work to keep his legacy alive.” Next time you are on the bricks, immerse yourself in the small town and familial energy of Charlie’s T-Shirts.
Boulder has turned into my Home since attending the University 10+ years ago. Waking up every morning and coming to work on the Pearl Street Bricks is a blessing and I love meeting people from all over the world coming to visit our beautiful town.