You’ve probably seen them around town – plenty of folks are sporting those cute, trendy sweatshirts bearing the name of their Wheeling-area neighborhood. After all, it’s human nature to be proud of where you came from. And Stacy Dietz of Ditto Boutique in Wheeling is using this hometown spirit to grow her store’s brand and boost its post-pandemic sales.
How It Started
Stacy shares that when she opened Ditto, she wanted a few local items for people who wanted to represent the area or wanted to share a bit of “home” with friends and family out of town. With this in mind, she stocked her first local item, a T-shirt bearing the West Virginia area code 304. “It was funny in the beginning, because if you weren’t from West Virginia, you did not get what 304 really meant,” said Stacy. “I could tell who was from outside our home state when they would ask.” Ditto still carries these shirts as well as other West Virginia merchandise.
Since the 304 shirts were so popular, Stacy decided to take a step closer to home. Recalling a well-worn favorite sweatshirt from her college days, she decided that a soft, comfy sweatshirt would be a great addition to her collection. She found a vintage-dyed crewneck with a wide bottom band in a super-comfy fabric that she thought would fit the bill perfectly. Stacy said that the first round of sweatshirts they stocked simply said “West Virginia” on the front. ”They took off and we could not keep them in stock!” she said. “People were sending them all over the country to family and friends.” Stacy relates a fun story in which her shirts played a major role in bringing together a now-newlywed couple. The woman was sporting her West Virginia sweatshirt in a grocery store in Florida. A man noticed her shirt and struck up a conversation with her, saying he was also from the Mountain State. They exchanged numbers as both were new to the area and didn’t know many people yet. Flash forward two years and the couple was married, thanks to a chance meeting and one very special shirt.
Other colors of the fun collegiate-font sweatshirts began to catch Stacy’s eye, which made her start to think about other local neighborhoods that people are proud to represent. “We started with Wheeling Island and Warwood, and then our social media was blowing up with other requests,” she stated. So East Wheeling, Woodsdale, Bethlehem and South Wheeling crewnecks were eventually added to the roster. And for those who might be wondering: no, the In the Hood collection does not come in a hoodie style.
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Island Girls Dana and Carrie show their neighborhood spirit.
Diane is proud of her Elm Grove roots.
Ditto customer Raz reps East Wheeling.
How It’s Going
According to Stacy, the shirts just “sell and sell and sell!” She’s not really surprised by their popularity though, since she herself is so proud of her hometown. She tells Weelunk that the pride she has for Wheeling is immense and that she and her family are Friendly City “lifers.” Although she and her husband Gary Dietz have a second home in Florida, they don’t plan to ever move there permanently. “We both agree this will always be our home. Our community has a lot to do with that,” Stacy said. Her “day job” in education means that she knows many people in the area. “I’ve either taught their children, they are friends with my children Carly and Cole, or perhaps I’ve worked with them or served with them through community outreach opportunities, or just from social settings,” she stated. As we all know, Wheelingites are proud of their roots and are happy to support their hometown.
And the winner is…MOZART! A recent Facebook poll was taken to determine the next addition to the Hood collection. Winning by a majority vote, Mozart sweatshirts will be added to Ditto’s shelves in the very near future.
Stacy also shared that she is happy to take custom shirt orders for businesses or groups. The only requirement is a minimum order of 12 shirts, which will allow the customer to receive a bulk discount. Interested parties can call Ditto at 304-238-9956.
Ditto’s In the Hood shirts are high-quality, unisex and priced at $48 each. Despite ever-increasing costs and huge demand, Stacy says she is trying to keep the cost steady. “I love providing this service to Wheeling and surrounding areas.” She also credits her team for making her boutique successful. “I call them my Ditto Darlings,” she revealed. “They are so committed and I am very blessed to have them on our team.”
If you’d like to rep your neighborhood, you can check out Ditto’s merch at 1143 National Road or on their Facebook page. Their winter hours are 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Ditto is also one of the very few local boutiques open on Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
• Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a lifelong resident of Wheeling and a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School, where she discovered her love of writing as a member of the yearbook staff. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she utilizes that degree at the international law firm where she is employed. After work, you can find her relaxing with family, friends, and her clowder of cats.