t-shirt vendorsIf you search for custom t-shirt printing on Google some of the first results that you’ll find will be one of a couple of national custom t-shirt vendors. They dominate the search results across the country. I’ve actually used them myself before we started our t-shirt shop.
I’m not one to bash success. They process a lot of orders, make a lot of money and spend A LOT on online advertising. Hundreds of thousands per month.
These vendors have their place, but when we started our business they intimidated me. How could I even start to compete with such a behemoth?
I’m not intimidated anymore.
In 2018 we lost a bid for camp t-shirts from a local summer camp. We lost the bid to the main custom t-shirt printing behemoth. We happen to send our kids to this camp, so we had a look at the final product. The staff shirts were supposed to have a left chest print that signified the person as a staff member. The shirts actually had a left SHOULDER print.
One of the staff that knew we had bid the job approached us. When he got close enough he laughed and pointed to his shoulder. “You like this? This was supposed to be a chest print. This isn’t my chest.”
By the time the shirts arrived and the error was spotted… upon opening the first box… there was no time to fix the order and get reprints. The staff had to wear the shirts the next day when campers would start to arrive. The next year this camp used us for their shirts and they turned out great. Great quality and on time.
What’s the difference?
The main difference is relationship. We see you face to face or talk to you on the phone. We try to understand your goals and we know how important your order is to you. An online vendor doesn’t. When you place an order for your shirts with one of these giant companies you are a number. Your job is subbed out to a random printer with one idea in mind… get this job out and move to the next.
These contract printers work on volume. They have very tight margins because they are splitting the profit with the giant print website. The only way they make money to move a lot of shirts through the shop in a short time. I know this because I tried contract custom t-shirt printing a for a short while. It’s not a great way to live. Everything is rushed, so quality starts to lose ground to speed. I didn’t spend much time in that world.
So, where do these giant vendors fit? If someone is looking for two custom shirts and they call us, we send them to one of the giant vendors. We aren’t equipped for super small orders. Our sweet spot is currently an order between 50 and 500 shirts. We can produce these orders with an eye on quality and we can get these jobs out quickly.
Since we’ve spoken to you personally, we know what you want and when you need the shirts in hand. We’ve taken the time to understand because we can. That’s what happens when you intentionally take time to form a relationship with you clients. Each custom t-shirt printing order is personal for us, because it is for you.