Company uniforms serve a number of different purposes. Among them is helping to define the image an employer wants to project. In some cases, that image goes well beyond the company itself to actually define the employees who wear it. That moment you are defined by your uniform is that same moment you become a key component of brand loyalty.
There are some employment sectors that have always been defined by employee uniforms. Law enforcement and medicine are just two examples. There are other sectors that, even to this day, do not necessarily depend on uniforms to succeed. Take hawking beer and hot dogs at a baseball game. A good hawker doesn’t need a uniform. But some of the best wear them anyway. Why? Because they arrived at a moment of realizing they were defined by what they wear.
A Hawker with His Own Beer
Catch a Buffalo Bisons game in upstate New York and you are likely to see a beer hawker sporting a Bisons jersey and a conehead ‘hat’. Concessions vendor Tom Girot has been selling beer and other concessions at live sporting events for almost 50 years. He began wearing a conehead made popular by the famous Dan Aykroyd Saturday Night Live sketch in the late 1970s – just to see how it would affect sales. He hasn’t taken it off since.
What many Buffalo Bisons fans do not realize is that the vendor affectionately referred to as ‘Conehead’ is not just a Bisons fixture. He also sells at Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills, Rochester Red Wings, and Rochester Americans games. He is as synonymous to the Western New York sports scene as chicken wings and beef on weck sandwiches.
Girot wears a team jersey and his conehead apparatus to every game he works. He even has a Conehead name tag. And now he has his own beer. That’s right, a local craft brewer has developed a new brew named after the vending legend. It even bears his likeness on the can. And it’s all because he decided that creating his own uniform would define him as a vendor. Indeed it did. People flock to games just to buy a beer from him.
Rotating Uniforms in Pittsburgh
Hundreds of miles away, vendor Rick Szeflinski is a fixture at Pittsburgh Pirates games. Szeflinski considers it his dream job, both because he loves the actual work and he’s a big baseball fan. He shows his support for the team by donning a baseball uniform every time he goes to work.
Szeflinski doesn’t have just one uniform, though. He has a whole collection of diggs ranging from throwback uniforms to what the team is currently wearing. He chooses the most appropriate uniform for every game. And just like Conehead, regular Pirates attendees always look forward to seeing what he will wear on their next visit to the ballpark.
The Pirates’ most famous vendor is a lot like his Western New York counterpart in that there was a moment he realized he was defined by the uniforms he wore. And that’s fine. After all, the uniforms help sales. Fans love them; they love him and are happy to buy his peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks.
Alsco, a Utah-based provider of uniform rentals, explains that the one thing the two vendors have in common is that their uniforms, though not required, set them apart in the stands. The two men combine their conspicuous appearance with great customer service that makes for very happy fans. And as such, both are icons within their respective communities. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.