Long Trunks Has a Strong Heart

July 10, 2013 Updated: July 10, 2013

The story of Long Trunks began over a century ago; but it took three childhood friends who had a strong love for the beach, boardwalk, and their hometown of Long Beach, New York, to make this fashion brand with heart into a reality. 

In 1906, real estate developer and politician William Reynolds set out to build “the Riviera of the East” by acquiring the oceanfront and the rest of Long Beach from the town of Hempstead. 

Reynolds marched a team of elephants from his Coney Island’s Dreamland down to the shores of Long Beach. He exclaimed “I am bringing the elephants to Long Beach to build a boardwalk.” 

Every child who grew up in Long Beach knew this legend well. It wasn’t a myth; it was fact, an undeniable truth that elephants carried wood on their great backs over two miles to the white sandy beaches. The elephant quickly became a symbol of the community. 

Decades later, grade school friends, Danny Fischer, Dave Yolinsky, and Andrew Klein came up with the idea of an eco-friendly fashion company—Long Trunks—based on this historic Long Beach symbol. 

While each pursued their own careers—Danny, a writer and actor; Dave, a firefighter; and Andrew, a DJ and owner of Gotham Events—they remained committed to Long Trunks. One day, when they had the time and money, they would give it the attention it deserved.

As is often the case, nature and fate have a way of pushing things to the forefront.

On Oct. 29, 2012, the city of Long Beach was besieged by Superstorm Sandy. Heroic tales from that day and the days following are too numerous to list. The same can be said for the charitable donations that started to come in.

For most Long Beach residents, fleeing the aftermath of Sandy was not an option. And although it would make for a great legend, the elephants weren’t coming to rebuild the devastated city.

Yet an amazing thing started to happen as neighbors, friends, and strangers pitched in to help each other. People didn’t have their hands out waiting for help; they had their hands full rebuilding a city. 

It became very clear to Danny, Dave, and Andrew, who grew up believing the elephants built the boardwalk, that they were the elephants, and if they wanted their city back, they would have to rebuild it themselves.

The three quickly sprang to action by generating 200 Long Trunks t-shirts within days of the storm. They made and attached the tags themselves, one at a time. 

Via social media and word of mouth, the shirts sold out within hours and Long Trunks distinguished itself by being the only company that donated 100 percent of its proceeds to the rebuilding of Long Beach. 

The entirety of the $2,000 raised from those initial shirt sales went to The Knights of Columbus of Long Beach. This organization provided free, hot meals to thousands of Long Beach residents for days after the storm. Their response was immediate, making them the first source for a hot meal, even though they too were without electricity. 

Knights of Columbus brought in catered meals from restaurants that had generators in neighboring towns. Sadly, the establishment of the Knights of Columbus was devastated a second time in December when a fire destroyed it, making it an obvious choice for the first Long Trunks donation. 

A second donation of $2,000 went to Douglas O’Grady, a Long Beach resident who organized a volunteer group to go from house to house helping to clean out storm ravaged houses. 

At no charge, the volunteers worked for more than two months after the storm. O’Grady’s home was among those ruined; however, he relentlessly continued to help others in their time of need. 

Another donation of $2,000 was made to Swingbellys, a Long Beach BBQ staple. Within a week of its 6th anniversary, Swingbellys was completely destroyed by the storm. Owner Sean Sullivan cooked food outside Long Beach City Hall to feed all of the first responders dealing with the aftermath. 

Swingbellys later helped to organize a massive Thanksgiving dinner to feed anyone in need. Thankfully, Swingbellys is open for business again.

Since those terrible days and months following the storm, Long Trunks has continued to make several donations, an additional $10,000, to local businesses and organizations. 

Their product line has expanded to hats, hoodies, candles, and even decorative pillows and the response has been overwhelming. 

According to Dave Yolinsky, “People in Long Beach have tremendous pride in their community, so to buy a high-quality shirt that generates donation money for our city is a win-win.” 

It’s also a win-win for the environment since Long Trunks uses only eco-friendly inks and dyes in the silk screening process and soy and citrus based solvents to clean the ink and screens. 

Every clothing tag is made of recycled paper and on each tag is Long Trunks’ logo: “We are the elephants.” It serves as a reminder that the resilience, pride, and determination embodied by an elephant is an accurate representation of Long Beach and its people.

Long Trunks’s legacy is long and storied, and thanks to their charitable endeavors, Fischer, Yolinsky, and Klein have not only honored that legacy, but also have made great strides in ensuring that Long Beach will be rebuilt, better than ever. 

When asked if he would ever give up his firefighter job, Yolinsky quickly replied “never.” By the same token, when asked if he foresees Long Trunks becoming a for-profit company, Yolinsky claimed that even if Long Trunks never made the friends a dime, they enjoy being a part of something so worthwhile. 

He added that even when Long Beach is finally completely rebuilt, a percentage of Long Trunks’s profits will always go back to bettering the community they call home or to other communities struggling after natural disasters. 

With an already-proven mix of respect for its origins and charitable giving to its community, there is no doubt that Long Trunks will continue to succeed.