Supporting Small Business: The Dawahare Tradition Continues

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 11:53 AM EDT
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Perseverance: that’s the word that comes to

owner Joe Kawaja’s mind every single morning, ever since his business (and many others) took a double whammy with the loss of college basketball and the forced (but understandable) closing of retail brick and mortar locations.

A member of the Dawahare family and a part of that storied retail tradition for many years, Joe struck out on his own in 2009, and with the backing of several local investors started Fan Outfitters. He and business partner Brian Sykes grew that business throughout Kentucky, expanding to Louisville and Oklahoma before selling to the national athletic retailer Lids.

At that point, Joe and Brian knew they needed to evolve the business model to include more than simply sports-branded apparel. And they also knew how much they and their families love the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the tremendous amount of pride they personally feel as Kentuckians. Why not offer a retail and online store that featured ALL of the products Kentuckian’s love? Bourbon, horse racing, UK sports, Simply Southern, Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) and our “Old Kentucky Homes."

Joe and his team have worked tirelessly this Spring to quickly evolve the business, working with local artists and producers to create new and timely themed shirts each week, and updating the

site and social platforms with new products daily to entice customers. Plus, they also created initiatives to support the community, including KSR and KS Bar & Grille branded products with all proceeds benefiting their waitstaff, and the creation of a #TogetherKY #TeamKentucky collection that supports the #TeamKentucky fund.

When asked what he thought was the most important goal for him during the uncertain times when the stores were closed, Joe said “My ability to keep my employees. It bothered me so much to think that we would have to lay people off and disrupt their livelihoods. I was fortunate to obtain small business funding that allowed me to bring people back to work so that we could fulfill online orders and prepare our stores to comply with all of the national and state guidelines to keep everyone safe and healthy."

Kentucky Branded retail locations are now open, behind the mall and in Hamburg, but also open 24/7 online at

. Show your support by shopping local today!