Topical T-Shirt Humor
For locals who want to wear their city on their sleeves, a new shop on Lower Greenville is churning out T-shirts that highlight Dallas’ quirks as fast as it creates them. Bullzerk, which opened earlier this month, is devoted to showing off Dallas and its suburbs with a style that’s equal parts social critic and cheeky humorist.
Owned by Dan Bradley, a Midwest native who moved here a year ago with his wife, Kari, Bullzerk celebrates the idiosyncrasies of Dallas’ neighborhoods and the running jokes about them that locals can appreciate.
A graphic designer by trade, Bradley and his staff develop shirts like “Highland Park: Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed” and “I Can’t Afford To Love Dallas Women” in-house, from concept to printing, which gives them the flexibility to also go after Dallas trends.
“Dallas makes fun of itself more than other cities,” says Bullzerk owner Dan Bradley. “It’s really been unbelievable. Nobody’s left the store like, ‘What the heck is this?’”
“Each week we release two new designs, depending on what’s trending,” Bradley says. “If Mama Bear didn’t get a car, we were going to create a shirt and release the proceeds. Everyone that works here is a designer who is funny and unique. We’ll print one shirt and get the feedback and see if it’s worth doing a run or not.”
Bradley says he decided to open Bullzerk as an answer to what he sees as increasingly impersonal big-box stores.
“This hyper-local movement was going on, but nobody was filling the gap,” he says. “Big corporate box stores are getting more and more impersonal and expensive, and it’s the same old stuff. There was also the gap in the tourist section that touches on some funny issues and the real city. A lot of that is just stuff you can get at a gas station.”
He says that Bullzerk, which also carries glasses, prints and books with its slogans, wants to poke fun at Dallas without ever being mean-spirited about it. The store did an early print that read “Keep Dallas Boring,” as a riff on “Keep Austin Weird,” but ultimately he decided it didn’t fit Bullzerk’s style.
“It’s a funny T-shirt, but ‘boring’ isn’t uplifting,” he says. “It’s supposed to hit on a touchy issue in a way that’s funny, but it’s got to be positive. On the reverse side of that, they have to draw your attention.”
Besides giving Bullzerk the flexibility to get a new shirt design on the shelves in two hours, printing in-house also lets Bradley keep costs down. All of his shirts sell for $23. “No boutique can touch my numbers,” he says.
Bradley wants to expand Bullzerk to Fort Worth within the year, and he promises completely new material wherever the company grows. He says that Dallas was the perfect launching pad to show that a city can laugh at itself a little bit.
“Dallas is one of those cities that makes fun of itself more than other cities,” he says. “It’s really been unbelievable. Nobody’s left the store like, ‘What the heck is this?’ It’s humbling that Dallas has embraced this concept.”