Retired Army Cpt. Tyler Merritt started his clothing business in his garage and now has four store locations, about 200 employees, and a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Savannah.
Merritt serves as CEO of Nine Line Apparel, which has store locations in not only Savannah but also Charleston and Delray Beach. He said the company is expected to open its fifth location at 284 Meridian Drive next door to Cold Stone Creamery in Grovetown on Monday, March 6.
ABD previously ran a story about the company, which sells a variety of patriotic items, including T-shirts, hoodies, socks, and hats.
“A lot of people who buy from me online live in that area,” he said.
Merritt said unlike in other parts of the country, his stores do well in states like Georgia and Florida, where residents often live near military bases and regularly interact with soldiers.
In the military, Nine Line refers to a distress call from an injured soldier. The Nine Line Foundation offers assistance to wounded veterans dealing with PTSD, homelessness, and other service-related issues. One of the foundation’s initiatives was to provide tiny homes for homeless veterans in Brunswick.
“We’re raising millions of dollars,” he said.
But the company doesn’t only help veterans; it also helps those affected by natural disasters and even wars in other countries, such as Ukraine.
Nine Line was built on three tenets: supporting veterans, helping other communities in emergencies, and making most of its products in the U.S.
“We decided if we could make it here, we would,” Merritt said.
He also wants to bridge the gap between veterans and civilians and raise awareness about the issues former servicemembers face.
“It hurts to take other people’s lives,” Merritt said.
While most civilians have never had that experience, they have dealt with other types of trauma, including car accidents and losing loved ones.
He didn’t retire from the Army until 2017 – five years after his company was founded. During that time, his brother, Daniel, and ex-wife, Angela managed Nine Line’s operations. Merritt devoted all his free time at night and on weekends to building the company.
While serving in the military, he created morale T-shirts for fellow soldiers. Merritt now creates custom shirts for a variety of organizations and occasions.
“I would love to make products for the Masters,” he said.
For more information, visit ninelineapparel.com/.