Its remarkable that Bayfield has a suburb, but Gem Village achieving international fame is just crazy.
Its next to impossible to estimate how many bars there are in the U.S., but a million seems about right.
That makes it a million-to-one shot (by an English majors math) that the Billy Goat Saloon was picked as the Dive Bar of the Month by anyone, let alone a group that does this for a living.
The cyber organization www.divebarshirtclub.com has an interesting mission. The Dive Bar Crew picks a new dive bar every month in the country either by dumb luck through its own travels, or on the recommendation of its trusted membership. Members of the website receive the T-shirt from that bar much like a book-of-the-month or wine-of-the-month club. The club has chosen past winners from Honolulu to Atlantic City, Houston to Seattle and everywhere in between.
In January, club members from coast to coast and around the world will be wearing the colors of the Billy Goat, which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. Owner and Fort Lewis College graduate Ashleigh Tarkington took over the bar in 2004 from Bob and Ellen Asher, who purchased the building in 1979 and opened under its current name in 1982. Tarkington admitted to a bit of self-promotion; she saw the Dive Bar Shirt Club ad a few months ago in Rolling Stone magazine and nominated herself.
They said: We love your story, lets do this, Tarkington said.
She said Billy Goat T-shirt sales always have been a moneymaker for the bar she sold out of inventory in December before Christmas but shes bracing for more. Dive Bar Shirt Club founder Cody Shoemake said the site has more than 5,000 members in 28 countries worldwide.
He and his friend Mike Edwards started the company about three years ago. They run it from a small shop in Key West, Fla.
We like places with some history, not too shiny, comfortable like youre drinking in your living room, Shoemake said. We dont go too far, where its actually scary thats what we call a die bar, not a dive bar. It sounds like the Billy Goat fits the bill.
Shoemake and Edwards use the logo of the bar and add a few details for members that arent always included on the local version primarily where the bar is located and when it was established.
Once the run of shirts are gone each month, theyre retired on the website. Current shirts cant be viewed on the site until theyve been retired (membership has its privileges).
Tarkington said Shoemake told her to expect the orders to keep coming long after January. He advertises in many national publications including SkyMall, Maxim and other magazines, so there are a lot of eyes on the featured bars.
In this economy, its just great. I already sell T-shirts before I sell beer, Tarkington said. People driving to Wolf Creek or Denver stop in just for a shirt and keep going. Its become a crazy cult thing and it sounds like its only going to get crazier. Im actually a little nervous. But thats OK, its a good time for something positive.