New store: Tha City Clothing Co.

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

The five guys behind Tha City grew up together just outside this city. Their friendships started in Galloway as kids. After graduating from high school, they went separate ways - to the military, college, a Junior A hockey career.

Recently, though, all of their paths began crossing again in the Columbus area.

"We are friends, but really we're like family. This is a family," Carson Wassmuth said.

This band of "brothers" - composed of Carson, Garret Wassmuth (his actual borther), Sean Hagerty, Matt Baker and Tony Cook - opened its first family business this month in the Short North. Joining them as brand ambassador is Steward Smith

Tha City Clothing Co. is a line of urban-wear T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. There are men's and women's screenprinted styles. An imaginary city skyline recurs throughout, as does a royal crown.

"We like this idea of everyone being kings of the city, real royalty," Carson said.

Their retail shop, off West First Avenue, is in a space formerly used by a wedding planner. Dark burgundy walls and crystal chandeliers add to that young royalty vibe.

Tha City's T-shirts average $24 and the sweat suits $45. They also sell sunglasses and hats by Rich Kids Club and charm jewelry by Pick Up Sticks. A lineup of Levi's jeans - which "look really great with our line," Carson said - is on its way to the store.

The guys will launch a second line soon and sell it at Tha City as well. Called Mattson (a hybrid of Matt Baker and Carson's names), the line is expected to include items such as skinny ties and button-up shirts.

Street style and affordability in the Short North are the guys' goal. They also plan to take advantage of their new neighborhood's creative reputation.

"We want to have a new artist in each month to design a T-shirt and have some of their art displayed on the wall," Carson said.

The long-term dream for Tha City is to expand into other cities and to go big by thinking local. Each store would have its own styles designed by area artists sold alongside Tha City's original designs.

"We love this city, and we want to help add to it," Carson said. "This city is inspiring."

Tha City

15 W. First Ave., Short North


Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 12-7 p.m. Sunday