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Hey Guys,

Has anyone got any tips about how best to approach stores and asking them to stock your t-shirts? Answers to any of the following would be useful:

What sort of sale or return unit price is acceptable? What percentage of the retail price could you hope to receive for each t-shirt?

Are there companies out there which broker stocking deals (no, not Stockbrokers), but agencies which deal with bringing new labesl to the big stores, and negotiating prices, numbers etc?

Will stores be put off by my own online store?

Do you know of any online stores which are actively seeking new independent labels?

Many many Thanks to all of you.........
 

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I just went through the same stuff. I have a trendy t-shirt/clothing company still in its infancy. I come out with a different design shirt every week. My site isn't ready yet, but just around town,by word of mouth, I sell around 20 shirts a week. The plan I devised is that once my site is up i'm going to target privately owned stores with a packet that has a mission statement on the front page, then almost a cataglog for retailers stating prices/quantitys(obiviously the higher the quantity the lower the price the retailer will pay)and suggest retail prices. My suggested retail prices will be equal to the prices on the website. If a retailer decides they will buy , I will contact them weekly with new shirt designs through email. This is just my basic idea, I'd like to hear anybody else has any good ideas , or experience.
 

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I'll do my best to answer your questions....

You dont get a percentage of the final price of your shirts, you sell them at wholesale and then it is out of your hands. Generally your shirts wholesale for double what they cost to make. If you are aiming for trendy boutiques I would say around 11 dollars wholesale price.

They are called sales reps or showrooms, not stockbrokers, check trade publications for ones in your area.

I would be wary of offering retailers discounts based on the number of shirts they order. I know it seems like it makes sense, but it doesn't work out. If I sell 100 t-shirts to one store for 3 dollars cheaper then I sell 12 shirst to another. That means someone can go to the larger store and buy my shirts for significantly cheaper. Its called undercutting/undermining
 

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For me, I have never approached a store for sale of my products. You could try going to small stores, and working out deals with the owner. You will not have success at going to larger stores. At this point though, I have a popular online t-shirt store, and businesses approach me all the time. Your best bet (in my opinion) is to spend your time building an online presence. This way, the business will come to you and you wont have to chase after it.
 

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Twin85 said:
You dont get a percentage of the final price of your shirts, you sell them at wholesale and then it is out of your hands.
Not always. Some smaller stores sell on consignment, so you get either a flat rate or a percentage per t-shirt sold.

Personally I think consigment sounds like it would just be asking for trouble with the retailer; I'd make sure I had a good contract written up before anything changed hands.
 

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You could sell on consignment, its a good way of getting your foot in the door. Then if your t-shirts do well, then they might come back to you with an order.

Keep in mind thought, its no risk to them. The only thing they have to lose is shelve space.
 

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Twin85 said:
Keep in mind thought, its no risk to them. The only thing they have to lose is shelve space.
I've always wondered what would happen with theft though. That is the big risk to them after all - what if several of your shirts are stolen, with no sales to cover that loss? I can't imagine many small retailers would be happy to take that one on the chin.

I can just imagine "Well I didn't actually sell a single one of the fifty shirts you gave me, but they're not here. So you get nothing.". Yeah, I'd definitely be paying very very close attention to that contract first before jumping into consignment too quickly...
 

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Well, its not like any of that is a very LIKELY occurance. My parents have done several cosignment deals over the years (not t-shirts generally, though they did do some tie-dye at one point) and I don't think they've ever had any problems like that at all; only 'problem' would be if their products weren't selling so they couldn't sell them there anymore ;)
 

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Agreed with Twinge...

Theft would be the absolute last thing on my mind, you have to look at your opportunity cost. The shirts have a better potential of making money sitting in a store then in your garage. Get a general contract on paper stating how much you will get a shirt and how long they will have to sell them.
 

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Hi,
It seems that they prefer to buy from you rather than giving a percentage of the final price. This is understandable because some companies more than double the price they paid you for.
 

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Get thread, however I wish someone would have gotten into the direct selling aspect of this topic, i.e. how did they approach these boutique owners? Is it more effective to go door to door with your line sheets, with samples, or both? Has anyone tried a mass mailing of their line sheets? If so, was it effective?

Also does anyone have a sample contract they've signed with a retail for wholesale purchase? If not, how about a contract for consignment.

Thanks!
 

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It really depends on the store. With bigger retailers, most of them would want to buy them wholesale from you, and the price they would pay for your shirts would barely cover the original cost, and most times, the price they name won't cover it at all. I suggest targetting the smaller stores, local boutiques and whatnot.

Like the poster said, its a good idea to get some kind of contract ready if you do go by the "getting a % on sales sold" just in case something like theft would happen.

Also you would want to make a portfolio of all your designs and samples in a nice and professional artbook-esque book (these run for quite a bit though). One of my friends work as a buyer in a surfshop and she told me the sellers would just go into the store and ask to meet with the manager. Usually if its a small store, the manager is the buyer so you can arrange a meeting, most times its then and there, and you show him your portfolio etc.
 

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bjmason32 said:
Get thread, however I wish someone would have gotten into the direct selling aspect of this topic, i.e. how did they approach these boutique owners? Is it more effective to go door to door with your line sheets, with samples, or both? Has anyone tried a mass mailing of their line sheets? If so, was it effective?

Also does anyone have a sample contract they've signed with a retail for wholesale purchase? If not, how about a contract for consignment.

Thanks!
This really depends on the size and scope you’re going after. Small boutiques may have an owner/operator present, but for the most part, the owners are rarely at the shop(s). Even though you still see sales people “canvassing” or going door to door, it’s pretty much a dead method of prospecting. Sure you can make some progress, suppose that’s why people still do it? You can call 50 places in a day. If you can do that canvassing… Ravel On!

The most cost-effective way to market is to contact these businesses by phone, find the correct person to speak with, present them your “elevator” pitch, and try to set an appointment to show them your stuff. If distance is a factor, you’ll need samples to send.

Your first approach should be to sell them your stuff. However, smaller shops/boutiques may not want to take the risk of your stuff moving and might start on a consignment basis. This should only be done to the point of showing the shop your stuff will move, unless it’s a consignment only shop.

The most important key is to contact stores that are in your product market. They’re going to know their market inside/out, for the most part, and you should too. If it’s not a good fit, you’re just spinning your wheels from the first call.

I guess if Charlie Sheen can get his (girls only) clothing line in Kitson’s… there’s hope for anyone!
 

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bjmason32 said:
Is it more effective to go door to door with your line sheets, with samples, or both? Has anyone tried a mass mailing of their line sheets? If so, was it effective?
I have tried mass mailing and didn't find it effective at all. Buyers get so much mail that most of the time the catalogs just end up at the bottom of the pile. Best thing to do is to call the person incharge, set up a meeting and bring you line sheet and some samples with you.

I have never done a consignment contract but for wholesale any purchase orders issued by the company should be a binding contract between you and the store (shows the item, qty, price, etc..).

As for putting your merchandise on consignment in any store just make sure to go over the inventory with the store owner and have him sign off on it. Also make sure to have a written contract with the store that all consignment items are store owners responsibility... Lost or stolen items will have to be covered by the store owners as any theft in the store should be covered under his/her insurance.
 
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