July 8, 2015
Disabled Veteran turns Website into successful Business
By Mark Wachtler
July 8, 2015. Antonia, MO. (ONN) Al Mount is a 68-year-old Army Airborne veteran who fought in Vietnam. Fifteen years ago, he was declared one hundred percent disabled. And in 2009, he launched an online store for US military and veteran related apparel and novelties. Today, six years later, Sarge’s Gift Shop has grown from the simple hobby of a proud American vet to a successful commercial venture. His business is now recognized and licensed by all four branches of the US military and is designated a ‘Disabled Combat Veteran-owned Business’.
One of over 100,000 stock items available from Sarge’s Gift Shop. They also custom-print merchandise for customers.
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In addition to running Sarge’s Gift Shop, Al Mount also publishes the Delta Raiders blog. From that platform, he heroically remembers and honors Vietnam veterans, especially from Delta Company of the 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. Ole Sarge, as he is often called, proudly displays a group photo of the original Delta Raiders just before leaving Ft. Campbell, KY for Vietnam in 1967.
“Delta Company has the distinct and proud honor of being one of only two Infantry companies in the Vietnam War to have two Medal of Honor recipients,” Al Mount informs visitors to his blog, “Sgt. Joe Hooper and Sgt. Clifford Sims.” He then goes on to point out in the nearly 40-year-old photo where both Hooper and Sims, as well as himself, are located in the group picture.
While the quote and photo are the first things guests see when visiting the Delta Raiders blog, a quote from the Company’s first commander, Capt. Wayne McMenamy, sums up the tone of both of Mount’s websites – Delta Raiders and Sarge’s Gift Shop. McMenamy’s words are to his troops in 1968, just after the first major battle of the Tet Offensive:
“From the soul that has given you life, you have honed your skills well, proven your gallant spirit and moulded a character of strength and willingness to show a compassion and love for your fellow soldier. With your blood, you have forged a tradition of valor and pride and through this a brotherhood is born. Thus, you are bound forever, one to another, by this, your baptism of fire.”
Sarge’s Gift Shop
Al Mount makes no secret or apologies that Sarge’s Gift Shop is a, ‘politically incorrect store.’ In fact, his own ads tout that fact. But in reality, the wide assortment of items offered at his site span all aspects of the political and military spectrum. Custom printed shirts, hats and other items include not only veterans and active duty military, but have expanded to also include firemen, paramedics, nurses, miners, Native Americans and skilled laborers. Hot button issues like PTSD, abortion, Israel, cancer awareness, firearms, religion and other sensitive subjects can also be found on items offered at the online store.
But merchandise honoring Al Mount’s most beloved group occupy the first four placements in his gift shop – US Army, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy. Emblazoned with full color prints of humorous or honorary slogans and images, some of the available custom-printed merchandise includes tee shirts, hats, coffee mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, magnets, baby bibs, blankets, holiday ornaments, wallets, car mats, mouse pads and even a line of items for dogs.
Imprints and custom messages
To give readers a glimpse of just how huge Sarge’s Gift Shop has become, we clicked on the ‘US Army’ section just to see what the site offered. We were blown away by 19,257 items spanning 321 pages. And that’s just for the section containing US Army memorabilia. We found everything from men’s and women’s “Army Veteran” shirts and luggage tags to bumper stickers proclaiming, “Proud Army Dad”, “Proud Army Grandpa” and “Proud Mom of a Deployed Soldier”.
Illustrating just how edgy, and even timely, the custom prints are at Sarge’s Gift Shop, some of the slogans contain a bit of dark humor. One series of products offers a design for vets with PTSD that reads, ‘WARNING – This Vet is Medicated for your Protection.’ A shirt specifically for gun-loving bikers reads, ‘Honk if you’ve never seen a gun fired from a motorcycle before!’ And the most recent offering includes a design featuring the state flag of Mississippi. Only, where the Confederate battle flag used to occupy the upper left corner, it’s been replaced by a mock government warning label reading, ‘Government Censorship – Protecting you from History.’
Even with the impressive amount of merchandise offered at Al Mount’s online store, possibly the most exciting is Ole Sarge’s service of custom-printing individual items for customers. Many of the stock items sold also come with the option of printing a custom message in addition to, or instead of the standard print. In many instances, the customizable section is meant for the name of a soldier. But the site also offers the service of printing customers’ own original designs for the various items. If you have design you’ve always wanted to turn into an actual hat or tee shirt, visit Sarge’s Gift Shop and let a disabled veteran produce it for you.
For more information or to check out the vast offering of items, visit Sarge’s Gift Shop.
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