Most of the business at Bandwagon Retro Sportswear Apparel relies on downtown foot traffic as tourists and locals stop in to support their favorite sports teams.
What they find, though, isn’t the typical sportswear, since the majority of the sports apparel and fan gear on the shelves, racks and walls is embossed with retro logos.
“My motto is if you don’t need it, we’ve got it,” said Wayne Weldon, owner and manager of Bandwagon, 19 Old Town Square, Ste. 137. “People come in here with no intention of buying anything. A high percentage tend to buy something, since they’re so intrigued.”
Weldon opened a sports apparel store in Fort Collins in 2018, calling it Rocky Mountain Retro until 2021, when he changed the name to Bandwagon to better fit the unique nature of his offerings.
“They call it hopping on the bandwagon when you start following a team that’s hot, so it’s the perfect name for a store,” Weldon said.
Weldon started in the sports apparel business in 2010 when he opened The Vault on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina, followed by stores in Mount Pleasant and Greenville. He also spent nearly 30 years managing golf courses in Myrtle Beach.
“I just love sports and memorabilia, so it was a perfect fit,” Weldon said.
As a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Weldon felt the call of the mountains and wanted to return to Colorado, so he moved to Fort Collins but couldn’t keep The Vault name when he sold his businesses. In his Fort Collins store, he started out with the help of his girlfriend, but now has two employees, one part- and one full-time, and he’s seen his business grow every year.
“The product lines have expanded as it’s become more and more successful,” Weldon said. “We started doing jerseys, knick-knacks for teams like those coffee mugs, and the banners have been a big hit.”
Weldon sells sports apparel and fan gear from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA and others, representing a wide range of teams from most sports divisions, plus defunct teams such as the Denver Bears.
“We do just about all the major leagues … and about all the professional teams,” Weldon said. “Hardly any place goes that deep in teams.”
Weldon’s merchandise represents sports from 60 different colleges and universities. He has shirts, hats, jerseys, banners, knick-knacks, championship plaques and framed copies of original Super Bowl tickets.
“It’s all new merchandise made to look old,” Weldon said. “Few companies still do retro logos.”
Retro logos have character to them with more complex, intricate drawings, but now the newer logos are being simplified, he said. For example, the Hawkeyes had a detailed line drawing of a bird that has since become an abstract representation with shapes to look like a bird with a massive beak.
“The new just doesn’t have it,” Weldon said.
Weldon also sells apparel with rock ’n roll and pop culture images, including Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Elvis and John Denver. His entire store is decorated with sports memorabilia and antiques from old Coke signs to 1950s-era TVs and radios, old games and toys, and cereal boxes depicting famous athletes, plus framed photos and newspaper clippings of sports history.
“I’m kind of a collector. I never throw anything away,” Weldon said. “I got a shrine back here: old photos, my personal memorabilia from my childhood, family items, pictures, autographs from famous people and Masters memorabilia.”
Weldon likes being surrounded by sports and history, listening to good music all day and meeting customers, he said.
“My typical day is interacting with the folks who come in, talking sports and possibly ordering and looking for unusual merchandise,” Weldon said. “I spend a lot of time looking for cool logo things.”
Weldon keeps those things “neat and tidy,” using cardboard squares to fold the shirts and hanging everything in an orderly fashion.
“We get a lot of comments on how pristine the shirts and everything are folded. It’s a lot of work to keep up with,” Weldon said. “It’s a lot of shirt folding, just a lot of ordering and searching for cool products. That pretty much takes up the day.”