Johnny Cupcakes, a tee-shirt and accessories shop that sells mainly limited edition styles, will be setting up shop at 46 Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. The store opening comes with the introduction of a new line of custom tee-shirts that combine Marthaʼs Vineyard culture and landmarks and the context of Johnny Cupcakesʼ bakery motif — and with giveaways and refreshments.
The store will open on June 16 at 2 pm. Expecting a crowd, owner John Earle said those waiting at 11 am will be given a wristband with their place.
Customers waiting in line will then be invited to participate in a pirate-themed scavenger hunt around Oak Bluffs. Participants will search for three keys to treasure chests, which will hold prizes.
What once started as a joke has turned into a multi-million dollar business for Mr. Earle.
The store is named after a nickname coined by Mr. Earle’s former coworkers when he worked at the record shop Newbury Comics. “Sometimes they would call me Johnny Appleseed,” Mr. Earle said in a phone interview. “When I was late for work they would call me Johnny-come-lately. Johnny Cupcakes was the one that stuck.”
In 2001, he screen printed a tee-shirt with his nickname on it, and people began asking where he bought the shirt. Soon he began selling shirts out of the trunk of his ’89 Toyota Camry during lunch breaks at work.
What you will find when you visit is that Johnny Cupcakes is not just a retail tee-shirt and accessories store but an actual experience that is not to be missed. Glass bakery cases and stainless-steel cooling racks decorate the store. Yet instead of actual baked goods, baker’s racks show an array of brightly colored tee-shirts, featuring different cupcake related designs.
When asked how often people ask to buy cupcakes, Mr. Earle said, “Every day. We say, well, we have cupcakes on our shirts, and that’s a lot healthier for you.”
While not normally sold in store, 600 cupcakes made by Island resident Amy Sertl will be given away on opening day.
The Oak Bluffs location is the fifth store Mr. Earle has opened. He also owns the flagship shop in Hull, one on Newbury Street in Boston, one in Los Angeles and one in London, England.
Last year, Mr. Earle opened a two-weekend long Pop-Up Shop in Edgartown.
Mr. Earle’s interest in having a store on the Vineyard was due to past summers spent on the Vineyard. “I have tons of very fond memories of summers on the Island,” Mr. Earle said. “My mom was born on Martha’s Vineyard, and we still have a lot of family on the Vineyard.”