Too Much Metal celebrates a decade at the Big Gig
This year, Fred Gillich – the owner and operator of the Too Much Metal Showroom in the Third Ward – celebrates 10 years of selling his Milwaukee-clever T-shirts at Summerfest.
"I have 10 years' worth of rad," says Gillich. "I'm really humbled that I get to make a living doing what I love and Summerfest is a big part of that."
Gillich started in 2004 and, at the time, had only two designs: his classic Too Much Metal and Milrockee shirts.
"Since then I have an entire Milrockee line with dozens of designs and I have branded Too Much Metal globally," says Gillich.
Gillich's most popular T-shirts this year are the Milrockee Skyline, the Too Much Metal 10th Anniversary flying V-neck shirt and the Cooler by the Lake hoodies – which will especially remain top-sellers if temperatures remain seasonally low during the 11-day stretch.
"But I always wish for great weather because – as we know – weather can really effect everything," he says. "If I hear anyone complain about the weather this year, I'm gonna high five them right across the butt. Enjoy the summer, the warmth and the people's fest. 'Cause winter is coming."
The price of the shirts are $25; $40 for hoodies. The images are screen printed by The Factory – formerly Funhouse – on Milwaukee's South Side.
"Those guys are the best. They do everything by hand," says Gillich.
Over the past decade, Gillich says he's watched the Big Gig change, both in ways he supports and ways he doesn't.
"It's become a lot more corporate," he says. "However, Summerfest is one of the easiest places in Milwaukee to make friends."
This year, Gillich has four employees to help him cover the long Summerfest hours. When not selling T-shirts at festivals, Gillich operates the Too Much Metal Showroom, 207 E. Buffalo St., which he opened in the Marshall Building in 2011.
"I'm always concepting new ideas and design for a lot of other Milwaukee businesses and organizations," he says.
Gillich has a interesting life story. When he was three years old, his German father and Hungarian mother emigrated from Romania and settled in Milwaukee.
"My great uncle lived across the street from the West Allis Farmers Market where we lived for one year before moving to the Sherman Park neighborhood," says Gillich. "My folks are still in that neighborhood."
In 1992, Gillich studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, and spent a year studying and traveling Europe's major capitals, art and design and farms.
Gillich enjoys his time at the Big Gig for the most part. He says he finds most of his customers, even the inebriated, "quite funny."
"But every once and awhile, someone gets over served and their friends don't keep them in check and then I tell them you're too drunk for one hand and tell them to leave," says Gillich.
Gillich's Too Much Metal Summerfest booth is located in the South Market Place right next to the BMO Harris Pavilion. Gillich says he can hear and enjoy the acts at the BMO, one of the many perks of his space.
"I've had the same spot for 10 years," he says. "Now that's commitment."
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