Retro style startup

(First published in the November 21, 2018 issue of City Pages)

Quinn Coyle started his clothing company when he was in high school. It now has a store in the mall.


Quinn Coyle launched his own clothing brand six years ago — now he has his own store in the Wausau Center mall.

Quinn Coyle was a 15-year-old Wausau West High School student when he launched his own apparel brand, Flashback Clothing Company. That was six years ago. This month, Coyle launched a full store in Wausau Center mall.

Coyle started as a sophomore, when he made about 200 tee-shirts emblazoned with his logo and sold them all within two days to friends and classmates.

He got the idea for his brand when he saw the word “flashback” on a piece of paper. After checking that the name hadn’t already been taken as a company, Coyle worked on the logo. His parents drove him to Webko for production — printing off those first 200 Flashback shirts. “I thought that if I can do it with tee-shirts, I can do it with long sleeves, hoodies, crewnecks; the sky’s the limit.”

The following year he made those other items, which sold just as well.

After high school, Coyle enrolled in the small business program at Northcentral Technical College but after almost two years, he decided he would learn more by living and breathing the business world on his own. And while Coyle made it all happen himself—his family hasn’t helped fund the store or the brand—his father has been a business mentor and Coyle listens to all his advice on sales.

Moving into a mall was the next logical step. Coyle began selling the Flashback brand in Wausau Center mall in October with great success, he says. To start, he opened a small kiosk to grab the foot traffic passing by. It did so well that it soon began to overflow with more products than he could display in that small area, he says. He then negotiated with the mall for a full storefront space, moving into the former Maharlika spot near center court. “This place is perfect, not too big, not too small.”

At the Flashback store, he sells his brand (shirts start at $20), which is made in Wausau, along with hand-picked retro clothing that harks back to the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s—an eclectic mix of printed shirts and retro shoes.

His love for the retro clothing genre began in his early teens when he accompanied his mother to thrift shops. All the retro products Flashback now sells come by way of Goodwill, online auctions, and other used clothing venues. Coyle’s very picky when it comes to what he will sell in the store. “It has to have sentimental value to somebody, like for example a Styx concert shirt… there’s a market value for everything,” he says.

Two men shopping at the store recently illustrate why: They looked at the retro shirts and proclaimed, “Hey, I remember that concert,” and bought a shirt.

It’s a common exclamation, Coyle says. “Anybody looking back is going to have a lot of flashbacks seeing the stuff.”

Coyle’s goals are to spread the brand as much as possible and he hopes to branch out into the Midwest, the United States and then overseas. He also wants others with a dream to take note.

“I struggled with reading, writing. I am dyslexic. I have ADD and ADHD [attention deficit disorders] and going through that in high school is very rough… but I overcame the hurdles,” he says. “If I can do it, you can do it, too.”

Flashback Clothing Company is located in the Wausau Center Mall. Online they can be found on Facebook or at their website