Meeting/Event Information

September PDM - RAYGUN

September 18, 2019
5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
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Café Barrata’s at the State Historical Museum of Iowa
600 E Locust St
Des Moines, IA 50319

September 2019 PDM


Speaker:  Mike Draper, Founder/Owner    

When:  Wednesday, September 18, 2019

5:30-6:00 p.m. Registration/Networking

6:00-6:30 p.m. Dinner

6:30-7:00 p.m. Chapter Meeting

7:00-8:00 p.m. Presentation


Where:  Café Barrata’s at the State Historical Museum of Iowa,

600 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50319

**Parking is available in the ramp at 628 E Grand Ave.


Cost:  Free to CI-APICS Members and Managers, Free to CI-APICS Student Members, $30 CI-APICS Non-Members

If, after registering, you find you can’t attend, please contact the Director of Finance at [email protected] (515) 770-9793

About the Speaker/Company:

In the early spring of 2004, Mike Draper (RAYGUN founder and owner) was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. It had been 4 years since he left Van Meter, Iowa and was getting ready to graduate with a degree in history then continue his education in Europe. Destined for greatness!  Then he got rejected for the fellowship that was going to pay for that continuing education. But there was a silver lining from "The Committee". With those "wishes" for a "rewarding career" in hand, Mike started selling "Not Penn State" t-shirts on campus, because, when you have the rest of your life free (60-ish years by back-of-the-envelope calculations in 2004), why not start selling goods on the street?!

After graduation, Mike took his t-shirt show on the road, selling t-shirts on streets or college campuses out east. By December of that year, Mike learned an important lesson: selling stuff outside in the winter sucks.

So, by January 2005, Mike was looking to take his retail operation indoors, but also start doing his own screen printing and have a niche market to grow inside. Then it hit him: "Why not move back to my parents' house in Iowa, learn how to screen print from a high school buddy whose dad has a shop, and then open a store that specializes in ultra-positive slogans about Des Moines?"

After a summer of learning how to screen print, Mike not only moved out of his parents' house (again) but opened RAYGUN (then called SMASH) in the fall of 2005 at East 4th and Locust in Des Moines. For the first two years, until 2007, Mike was the only employee. But showing up every day, working, and thanking the god-of-skinny-punks that people shop here will slowly pay dividends. 2006 turned out to be the valley before a steady incline. 

  • In 2007, the first employees were hired.
  • In 2008, RAYGUN expanded into the space next door.
  • In 2009, the whole company was up to 10 employees before it split into 2-sides: the retail and printing on one side (which we renamed from SMASH to RAYGUNthat year), and the custom printing on the other side.
  • In 2010, we opened our Iowa City
  • In 2012, we wrote a book.
  • In 2014, we opened our Kansas City
  • In 2015, over a year of work paid off when we moved into what is still our current headquarters in Des Moines. Store, design studio, screen printing shop, and sub-leases tenants inside the space like Mars CafeThelma's Treats, and Domestica.
  • In 2016, we expanded our production to include a wood working shop (code named Gary)south of downtown Des Moines and we opened our second biggest store in Cedar Rapids.
  • From  2016 to  2018, we worked to increase our production capacity (taking over more space next to Gary, code-name: Li'l Gary) and finally did something we had talked about for years: unionized.  
  • In June of 2019, we opened our Chicagostore, our biggest market by a few million folks.


Having been immersed in product and production for over a decade, we've developed a deep respect for the people who make things. For example, our house brand of shirts is made in America's oldest Fair Trade Certified factory in LA. It goes from thread to fabric to dyed fabric to sewn shirts in southern California, then to Des Moines for printing. Our paper printing is handled by union labor on the north side of Des Moines, our glassware is made in the USA then printed in West Des Moines.


This is a lot more than just a t-shirt shop to us, and what people buy is a lot more than just t-shirts. Everyone who works here is a Midwestern native, and we have not only been lucky enough to host a WIIIIIIIDE variety of people in our stores, we have been able to give back to organizations we support.


It has been a wild ride that we hope continues into other cities, products, and projects. Though we have learned a deep appreciation for the communities we are in, none of this would be possible without the customers who shop here and support us.


$0.00 Member/Student

$30.00 Guest


September 2019 PDM - RAYGUN