Bill Windsor Sold His Publishing and Trade Show Companies in 1981.

In 1981, Don Gandy asked to have dinner with William M. Windsor.  Don was the CEO of a company that was acquiring businesses in the imprinted sportswear industry.

At Alaman’s¬†Mexican restaurant in Dallas, Don wrote something on a little piece of paper and put it in the center of the table.¬† He told me to take the paper and look at it ONLY if I was interested in selling my imprinted sportswear magazines, trade shows, and conferences.

I had never thought about selling.  I had never considered what the business might be worth.  We were doing $6 million in revenues at the time.

I asked how many zeros were after the range of numbers written on the paper.  I decided I was interested in selling.

Rather than sell to Don Gandy, I hired a publishing consultant, Mark Schrimpf, to do a valuation and seek buyers.  Three large U.S. publishing companies were interested, and I sold to Gralla Publications in October 1981.

I retired.  That lasted for less than a year.


William M. Windsor Founded a Publishing Company in the UK in 1981 and Launched an International Exhibition

William M. Windsor founded a publishing company in the UK in 1981.  He began publishing the European Edition of IMPRESSIONS Magazine from an office in The Netherlands.

He also launched the Imprinted Sportswear Exhibition International at the Wembley Centre in England.

Bill Windsor Launched the Imprinted Sportswear Show in New Orleans, Louisiana in March 1980

In March 1980, Bill Windsor launched the Imprinted Sportswear Show in New Orleans, Louisiana.

New Orleans Imprinted Sportswear Show March 20 1980 directory
New Orleans Imprinted Sportswear Show March 20 1980 directory
1980 Staff picture of Windsor Communications
1980 Staff picture of Windsor Communications

The staff had grown to over 80 people by 1980.

Park Tree North Dallas office of Windsor Communications
Park Tree North Dallas office of Windsor Communications

The businesses moved to a new office on Dallas North Parkway in Dallas, Texas.

Bill Windsor Launched Another Trade Show and Conference in 1979.

The second annual Imprinted Sportswear Show was held in January 1979 at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.  Each show was set up as a separate corporate entity.  Business #14.

The second show was twice the size of the first show.  The business grew from no employees to 10 employees in six months.

Several Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders made a special appearance at the Second Imprinted Sportswear Show.

William M. Windsor Started a Trade Show Company in 1978

In 1978, William M. Windsor launched the Imprinted Sportswear Shows for the “imprinted sportswear industry.”¬† He founded Windsor Presentations to own the first trade show.¬† Business #13.

After a year in Dallas working out of a desk in the corner of the master bedroom in a small apartment, Bill opened an office in the Dallas Petroleum Center.

First office for Windsor Communications
First office for Windsor Communications

The office was for both Windsor Communications and Windsor Presentations.

Reception area at Dallas Petroleum Center
Reception area at Dallas Petroleum Center

Bill hired a receptionist. She was quickly promoted to editor of IMPRESSIONS Magazine.  The first event produced by Windsor Presentations was a huge success, so the business was moved to a much larger office.  Within a year, the staff grew from one to 17.

Bill Windsor Created Shirtcans – a Paint-Your-own T-shirt

After a trip to Atlanta where Bill Windsor saw hand-painted T-shirts in boutiques in Buckhead, he came up with the idea of a do-it-yourself hand-painted T-shirt.¬† He wanted a catchy name, and ShirtCans was born. “You wear what we can.”

Bill Windsor invented ShirtCans in1976
Bill Windsor invented ShirtCans in1976

A variety of designs were offered.  Each can contained a white T-shirt printed with a black outline design, four acrylic fabric paints, a paintbrush, and instructions.  After a test at local K-Mart stores, Bill flew to New York and wore out the soles on a pair of shoes walking all over town to make sales calls on apparel buyers.  Then he flew to Chicago where he received a large test order from Sears.

Bill returned to Orlando very excited, and he opened a manufacturing facility at 119 W. Kaley Boulevard in Orlando.  Business #10.

1976 ShirtCans ad
1976 ShirtCans ad

In addition to manufacturing and distributing ShirtcCans to retail chains, the product was also offered to the advertising specialty industry and to premium companies.

Rich Sarver was a very talented artist who did all the art for ShirtCans
Rich Sarver was a very talented artist who did all the art for ShirtCans

Rich Sarver was the talented artist who created the designs for the ShirtCans and the labels and promotional material.  Incredibly talented!

Bill Windsor Launched a Company to Distribute Products to the Advertising Specialty Industry

After several years as a retailer, screen printer, and manufacturer, Bill Windsor launched a company to distribute apparel products to the advertising specialty industry.  The business was called The Shirt Tale.  Business #11.

The Shirt Tale brochure 1976
The Shirt Tale brochure 1976

The Shirt Tale had beautiful catalogs to promote its line of imprinted sportswear, heat transfers, and related products.

How to Sell T-shirts book 1976
How to Sell T-shirts book 1976

Bill Windsor published a book titled “How To Sell T-shirts.”

ShirtCan distributor Robert Grant with Bill Windsor in Brussels Belgium
ShirtCan distributor Robert Grant with Bill Windsor in Brussels Belgium

Bill and Barbara began exhibiting at advertising specialty trade shows.

Bill met people like Robert Grant, who signed a contract to distribute Bill’s products in Belgium and France.



The Wear-House expanded to a 6,000-square-foot store in Winter Park, Florida.

New location of The Wear-House on 17 -92 in Orlando
New location of The Wear-House on 17 -92 in Orlando

Bill divided the 6,000-square-foot space into a 4,000-square-foot retail space, a 1,500-square-foot screen printing shop, and a 500-square-foot office.

It was a big freestanding building on Highway 17-92 in Winter Park, just South of Fairbanks Avenue.


1976 Wear-House staff opening party
1976 Wear-House staff opening party

The Wear-House staff at the grand opening party.

Wear-House view from McDonalds of early days in 1976
Wear-House view from McDonalds of early days in 1976

The building was located right next door to McDonald’s.

Bill decided he should try to attract the customers from McDonald’s.¬† He cut a window and door to the McDonald’s parking lot, but it appeared to be tiny on the 120-foot long building.

So, Bill had Rich Sarver create some cartoon characters wearing imprinted sportswear.

Mural drawing on side of The Wear-House
Mural drawing on side of The Wear-House

The characters were 10-feet tall, but the mural still seemed really small.

More mural work on The Wear-House 1976
More mural work on The Wear-House 1976

Bill had Rich Sarver continue to create characters.¬† Rich painted the outline of the art on the wall, and people were invited to come paint.¬† When it was done, the 120-foot x 10-foot mural became the World’s Largest Cartoon Mural.¬† And most of the customers for The Wear-House came in from the door next to McDonald’s parking lot.

Bill Windsor opened a store in Winter Park, Florida named The Wear-House

When Bill Windsor and Barbara moved to Florida from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Bill opened a store in Winter Park, Florida named The Wear-House.  Business #7.

1972 Wear-House - Bill Windsor with display of rings
1972 Wear-House – Bill Windsor with display of rings

The Wear-House was an expanded version of the retail store he opened as a college student at Texas Tech.

Bill and Barbara sold a full line of fraternity and sorority merchandise, but they also had a heat transfer machine and sold imprinted T-shirts, customized while the customer was there.

Barbara Windsor at check out counter at The Wear-House in 1972
Barbara Windsor at Barbara Windsor at check out counter at The Wear-House in 1972

We didn’t have much money, so our decor consisted of free pickle barrels and orange crates obtained from local restaurants and fruit stands.¬† The wall decor was for sale.¬† We didn’t have a good location, just off busy Park Avenue.¬† We survived because I was selling to fraternities¬†and sororities all over Central Florida.



William Windsor Became an Entrepreneur as a Student at Texas Tech in Lubbock Texas


Bill Windsor at KLBK Radio in Lubbock Texas

As a college student at Texas Tech University, William Windsor was working as a DJ at KCAS-Radio in Slaton, Texas and KLVT-Radio in Levelland, Texas.  He was working 30 to 40 hours a week and paying most of his college expenses.

President of Delta Tau Delta fraternity

Bill was President of Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Texas Tech.  He was also Vice-President of the Interfraternity Council.  A traveling salesman came to Lubbock and took orders for fraternity and sorority sportswear with 50% deposits.  The balances were to be paid on delivery.  The salesman was a crook, and he stole the money from the Tech kids.

This was discussed at the IFC meeting, and the fraternity presidents voted to require salespeople to register and go through an approval process before they could sell.  Fraternity members and pledges were told to call the president of their fraternity if they encountered anyone trying to sell on campus.

Bill Windsor was at his apartment one Sunday and the phone rang.¬† It was a Delt pledge reporting that a man was in the dorm trying to sell fraternity sportswear.¬† Bill spoke to Ken Miller of Southern Sportswear that he would not be able to sell until he was approved, which could take a month.¬† It’s about a six-hour drive to Lubbock from civilization, so Ken was understandably disappointed.¬† He asked if he could come over to talk to Bill.

Ken came to Bill’s apartment and brought his samples.¬† He had a great line that included some cool surfer-type shirts that Bill had never seen before.¬† Ken asked Bill whether the problem was that kids couldn’t be sure they would get their merchandise and could lose their deposits.¬† Yep.¬† Ken asked, “what if all orders came in COD with a personal check accepted on delivery?”¬† Bill said that would work as they could stop payment if the merchandise was not received or was unacceptable, but he’d still need approval.

Ken asked, “Well, what if you were my campus representative?¬† I could ship to you and accept your personal check.¬† I’ll pay you 15% commission.”

That got Bill’s entrepreneurial juices flowing.¬† He said, “I’ll give it a try.”¬† Ken left a set of samples with Bill, order forms, and complete information.¬† Bill felt very comfortable with Ken Miller from Atlanta, Georgia.¬† Business #2 (lemonade stand was #1 LOL.)

Bill took the samples down to his fraternity meeting, put them in the living room with order forms.  After the meeting ended, he had orders for $1,000 and checks for $1,000.  He made $150 doing little or nothing.  He thus started his first business with no money and had $150 in working capital.

He mailed the order off to Ken Miller.  Three weeks later, he received a COD for $850.  He wrote a check, and his fraternity brothers were delighted.  He got orders for another $1,000 when all the fraternity brothers saw the stuff.  Cha-ching, another $150.

Bill kept working as a disc jockey, and he was making $450 or so a week selling fraternity and sorority sportswear.  The sororities had Bill come to their meetings at least once a month.  Tough duty.  LOL.

Bill couldn’t get around to see the sororities as often as they would have liked, and he never had time to go to any of the fraternity meetings.¬† He had also added party favors, mugs, greek jewelry, and more.

Bill Windsor US ArmyIn 1970, Bill joined the United States Army Reserves.  His best friend, Steve Shanklin, handled the business while Bill was in the Army.

The Greek Corner

So, after he returned from active duty in the U.S. Army, William M. Windsor decided to open a store.  The business was called University Services, and the fraternity-sorority business was called The Greek Corner.  The rent was scary Р$75 a month.  But he signed a lease and then subleased part of the store to other entrepreneurs.  He made a profit as a landlord.  Business #3.  The store was pretty ugly, but it was just half a block to the Texas Tech campus.  Bill quit working as a DJ when he opened his store.

When one of his tenants was thrown in jail for stealing a piece of beef jerky at the 7-11, Bill became upset when Joe had to spend the night in jail.  None of the bail bond companies would come to bail him out at midnight.  So Bill worked with Bill Goodacre to start a bail bond service for students.

Bill got 20,000 red and black business cards, one for each student at Texas Tech, and he started handing them out.  For the next two years, he spent many Friday and Saturday nights down at the Lubbock County Jail to get students out.  The bond fee is generally 10@, but he gave students a 10% discount, so it cost them 9%.  Business #4.

Bill’s girlfriend, Barbara, had a sister who could get factory-outlet double-knit slacks, popular at the time.¬† Bill started buying them from Judy, and he put them in his store and sold a lot of slacks at $12 to $15.

Bill Windsor was THE best-known student entrepreneur at Texas Tech.  So, other companies contacted him to sell things for them and do projects for them.  Bill established a rep business to handle other types of work.  He made a fortune soliciting students to obtain a Humble (Exxon) credit card.  He also did projects for Playboy Magazine (Sex on the College Campus study), Great Books, and others.  Business #5.

College Marketing Research gave Bill a contract to travel throughout Texas to find and hire other student entrepreneurs to solicit credit card applications.  Bill received 10 cents a card for every application they obtained.

Bill was accepted to law school, but he was also preparing to marry Barbara.¬† He decided he didn’t want to spend two years studying night and day.¬† He enjoyed making money, so he interviewed.¬† He received an offer from Procter & Gamble, but he chose an unknown company that had the concept of doing nationwide what Bill had done in Lubbock.

American Association of School Retailers

Bill took a huge pay cut when he accepted the position of National Marketing Manager for the American Association of School Retailers.  When Bill graduated from Texas Tech, he sold the businesses to his best friend, Steve Shanklin.

University Services - The Wear-House

P.S. This is a photo of the store after a tornado ripped Lubbock.  Our signage was destroyed.