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North Side Booms Commemorated

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Is he? Of course not. Then again, he lives in Manakin. Far enough away that pictures won't fall off his walls, but close enough to make a sales pitch. "People can be a part of yet another mysterious turn in Richmond's history," Johns says.

After the noise erupted late last year, Johns decided he could approach the commotion from a lighter side. He came up with a slogan — one at least good enough for a T-shirt, if not a bumper sticker. Shortly before Christmas, he made a few shirts and shopped them around. Alas, the stores didn't bite. He heard all kinds of excuses: The timing wasn't right, they were doing other things, or they were squeamish about selling them. So he took his wares online.

He found www.cafepress.com, a site that takes graphic designs from entrepreneurs and creates merchandise — with "just-in-time manufacturing," Johns says. That means the T-shirt's not made until a customer places an order.

His online store opened last week: www.cafepress.com/jimjohns.

Johns, 33, works in internal communications for Luck Stone Corp. He received a degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University and was part of the team that put out the local comedy mag Caffeine in the mid-1990s. So perhaps he's suited to find fun in the strangeness of the city — and capitalize on it.

We'll see if anyone joins in. As of Feb. 4, it was too early to tell how orders were going. "I haven't even gone back to check," he said. — Jason Roop

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