Making a Difference

Jeff Kunkle and Kelly Burg

Kunkle and Burg

Credit: Basil Childers

Jeff Kunkle and Kelly Burg loved road trips, particularly those that took them past long-forgotten landmarks with classic signage (like the A&W restaurant mascots shown here). "We'd always talk about how someone should start a company to publicize disappearing places," remembers Burg. "In 2006 we were driving through central New York, and we thought, 'We should do it!'" So she and her husband founded Vintage Roadside in Portland, Ore. Today their business honors landmarks from the heyday of road trips—c. 1930 to 1960—with T-shirts that reprint the original advertising graphics of everything from Doo-Wop motels and roller-skating rinks to bowling alleys and drive-in restaurants. "We think of what we do as an ongoing battle to preserve history and memories," Burg says. With every purchase, customers receive a history tag that describes the landmark's significance and emphasizes the importance of supporting local businesses that still survive. "Some of the places we love the most are already gone, but we can make sure that their history isn't lost," says Kunkle. "It's our way of teaching customers about the importance of preservation in their own communities."

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