Fans of Capt. Clay Higgins can now enjoy a dose of the Internet-famous lawman with a morning cup of joe — or an evening shot of whiskey — through a new line of Higgins-branded merchandise that includes drinkware, bracelets, window decals and apparel for adults and children.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s spokesman launched his web store, captainhigginsgear.com, on Black Friday with an ultimate goal of dedicating some of the profits toward building a 24-hour homeless shelter in the parish.
“As the Capt. Higgins phenomena unfolded, I started to see a way that we could do good works with money earned from a commercial endeavor like that,” said Higgins, a New Orleans-area native.
Higgins’ weekly Crime Stoppers segments, which air on Lafayette ABC affiliate KATC-TV, have clocked in with more than 2.6 million views on the station’s YouTube channel and earn thousands of Facebook shares and comments from around the world.
The videos spark a positive response from viewers enamored with the spokesman’s eloquence and wit when appealing to criminals to surrender, with national media outlets interviewing the man and Jimmy Fallon featuring Higgins on “The Tonight Show” with a suggestion he run for president.
Once a line that generated a number of widely shared Higgins memes, “GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER” is now printed onto a T-shirt, with the “LISTEN TO YOUR UNCLE CLAY” shirt proving the best-seller so far and future products promised to bear more of the popular “Higgins-isms.”
Each item comes emblazoned with the Capt. Higgins Gear logo — a silhouetted illustration of Higgins’ face, campaign hat included — and the thin blue line emblem that represents law enforcement support. Some apparel dons a positive message — “STRENGTH, COMPASSION, REDEMPTION” — a line that imbues the sentiment Higgins said he tries to portray after experiencing his own personal downfalls in life.
“We’re not just selling T-shirts. We’re delivering a message,” Higgins said.
Andrew Ahrens, a Lafayette financial adviser and the investor behind captainhigginsgear.com, said he first hired Higgins to do advertising work after seeing him on TV.
“I saw Clay on television one night doing Crime Stoppers, and he just spoke to you this righteous message he has in the way of his delivery,” Ahrens said.
The two soon discussed their shared interest in doing charitable work and agreed to pursue the venture with the development of a St. Landry Parish shelter as their primary focus — a decision influenced by Higgins’ time working as a night shift cop.
The Opelousas Lighthouse Mission houses up to 32 men a night and the New Life Center houses up to 58 women and children, but Higgins said the parish needs a less restrictive alternative for admission that will allow anyone to seek shelter in the middle of the night.
“We desperately need one. And I’m gonna make that happen,” Higgins vowed.
Higgins and Ahrens have not committed to donating any certain percentage of the profits toward a future shelter — “We’re now at the point of seeing if it’s gonna work,” Higgins said — but they’ve already received offers from people who want to donate property for a shelter and food for its kitchen.
Efforts are now underway to create a nonprofit organization through which Captain Higgins Gear LLC will donate some profits toward the shelter project.
“I’m just so blown away by what has happened in the last year in my life. I want to do good things,” Higgins said. “I can’t be any more clear than that.”
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.