In February 2009, a 2004 MMA Grad Billy Pierce launched the first website to sell United States Merchant Marine Apparel to the public www.MaritimeBilly.com. Prices range from $.99 for a bumper sticker to $56.95 for a jacket. The online store offers everything for the professional mariner â€” apparel, bumper stickers, duffel bags, and flags. To bring a salty sailor look to the merchandise, pierce incorporated iconic sailor and US world war slogans and images,
MaritimeBilly.com donates 9% of proceeds to three charities that benefit underprivileged children â€” Wish.org, Holidayhopeforthehomeless.com, and missingkids.com. “I said if Target can donate 5%, I can donate 9%, “says Pierce.
The idea for Maritime Billy was spawned when Pierce was attending MMA. He and his roommate pooled 300 dollars to make fifty merchant marine tee shirts, which were snapped up my classmates. It was then that Pierce identified a need in the market for merchant marine product: “There are Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force Gear so I figured why not U.S. Merchant Marine Gear? Between the 7 Maritime Academies in the US, along with the “hawse pipersâ€¢bCrLf (mariners that have worked their way up from the bottom), and of course the WWII Veterans, there was an entire niche market that had not been tapped yetâ€¢bCrLf explains Pierce. Upon graduating from MMA, Pierce set sail as a Third Assistant Engineer aboard oil rigs and commercial liners, spending his off time planning for the launch of MaritimeBilly.com.
Pierce is excited about continuing to expand the website’s product line in the upcoming year, along with utilizing social networking sites and maritime publications to reach out to more mariners.