In 1988 when my parents opened Townsend Bertram & Company, they intended not just to create a business but, more importantly, to build a community of adventure seeking, fun loving, environmentally caring people. The week before they opened, they ordered the original run of TB&C t-shirts to give to their first customers and employees. The shirts became a symbol of the collective of interesting people they brought together. And with those first t-shirts began a tradition of my parents asking the recipients to bring back pictures of themselves in their TB&C t-shirt on their adventures around the block or the world to slip under the glass. Thus began the famous Glass Top Counter at the shop, a visual representation of the incredible community of inspiring individuals the shop brought together in a common space to share stories, adventure tips, and their love of the outdoors.
When my parents adventured into parenthood, my mom ran the shop and my dad stayed at home with my sister and me. From a very young age I can remember the bright colors of my dad’s TB&C t-shirts. He took Ella and me to the shop often to work in the gardens. I would put my sticky hands all over the glass top counter asking my mom who all those people wearing the same shirt were and how did she know them and where they were. My mom would tell and Ella and me the stories of wonderful customers and of great staff who became family. Ella and I never tired of my mom telling us the adventures up mountains and down canyons and through rivers and in oceans that were captured under the glass top.
The TB&C t-shirts became so much more than just another shirt. They became an adventure, a story, a part of one’s identity, a connection to a place and a community. Much like the brands we choose to carry, TB&C is a business with a mission and purpose beyond profit. A mission to bring people together to enjoy the outdoors, to give to organizations like Friends of Bolin Creek and The Haw River Association that help keep the wild places we love wild, and to create a positive work culture where laughter echoes through the shop and staff keep in touch long after their time at TB&C. Much like wearing Patagonia and supporting their 1% for the plant program, or Toad & Co. who helps provide outdoor access for all, or United By Blue who picks up a pound of trash for every garment sold, when you rock a TB&C tee you model more than the latest style and color. You model your values.
Next September TB&C will celebrate our 30th anniversary. 30 years of stellar staff we feel lucky to have in our lives. 30 years in a supportive, locally minded community. 30 years of vibrant TB&C t-shirt color combos thanks to Audrey Townsend’s creative designs. The party next September will surely go down in Carrboro history for the best outdoor dance party ever thrown.
As we build up to that, we want to celebrate the every day adventures more and bring back the Glass Top Counter. This blog is just that, a digital recreation of the Glass Top, a place to bring the TB&C community together across the globe, to tell our stories and hear yours. Where have you been that took your breath away? What secret local adventure spot do you frequent? Who inspires you to get outside?
We want Glass Top Counter to be a collective of outdoor experiences. We envision this blog as a collection of musings on this wild and wondrous universe where the sky alone has the power to amaze us every day with it’s ever changing cloud landscapes and twinkling stars. The places you go and the things you do with the gear you buy from us never ceases to inspire us and bring joy to our team.
A great source of joy for me is seeing someone I don’t know out in the community wearing a TB&C t-shirt. I instantly feel an unspoken connection between us. A belonging to family larger than my own. A part of a tribe of courageous individuals dedicated to keeping our world wild and our community strong.
We hope you will enjoy and contribute to our blog. Comment below with an adventure you went on with gear from TB&C to enter to win one of the newest styles of TB&C tees! Have an awesome picture of you rocking a vintage TB&C tee? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line Glass Top to be featured on this new version of the Glass Top Counter!