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Hello, I am going to start approaching high end retail stores to see if they would like to buy some t-shirts, and I have a few questions:
(1) first of all is it best to call first and see when the person who does the buying is in, or can I just drop in?
(2)Should I do up a brochure with pricing to leave behind--if so, is it necessary to have professional photos of the tees, or is vector art ok?
(3) When contacting already established internet stores, to see if they want to buy--(I do not have a website as yet) should I send the brochure in a PDF format?
(4) What is everyone doing about stores who want several t-shirt samples--as this can be costly.
Any info would really help. Thanks everyone any i:) nfo would really help!
 

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I haven't done this myself, yet, but I have a buddy in SoCal with a clothing line who told me that its all about relationship building. He said that nothing happens overnight, and you really want to focus on building a relationship with your contacts to get orders.

good luck
 

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Ok.. as I was a retailer for 30 years and now a wholesaler and we have done this question numerous times and have answered it. A lot of retailers already deal with product reps. What do product reps do.. they call on stores and they show at gift stores. As it is awkward for a lot of you to do this but simply walking into a store, as reps do.. asking for the person in charge and if you reach that person then do two things. Tell them who you are. My name is..., I represent... I produce, make, design, offer... a line of tees. I know you probably busy but what I would like to do is set up a time when I could show you my line. Hopefully it is a good time and you have their attention.. Number two is.. If now is not a Good time then I will leave all the information for you to look at and set up a meeting with you at a more appropriate time. Never, never, never, use as an open ended question. Can I see you now.. No! I also usually have my product and flyer in my hand. The product is in clear plastic and very visible to who I am talking to.. If you have a product that is different, they will see it. They may ask to look at it and you just might have their attention right there. A lot of you can not take rejection.. hey I have been married 27 years.. it is part of life.. If they say they are not interested.. move on and don't push the issue. I don't like people calling me.. There you will get one answer.. I am busy, can't talk.. Click! if the person in charge , the buyer is not there, leave information with the person your talking to. Now you can call later but you have a reference point and they have your info. By the way if you make a flyer, brochure.. do it on glossy paper.. the pictures stand out.. it looks a lot better than just bonded paper. Hope that helped.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks so much for all the info. Do you think I should have professional photos of the t-shirts taken or is vector art good enough?
 

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I think vector art is fine IF you can actually show them samples of your shirts at the same time. You don't have to have a sample of every shirt, but 3 or 4 would be good. People want to touch and see the product first hand before they commit. And make sure the sample has your hangtag on it and is packaged nicely in plastic. This kind of marketing goes a long ways.

I'm also getting ready to make some actual sales calls. So I'm NOT speaking from experience. :)
 

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Wow Lou! That was outstanding! I wish I had read that before I was talking to these Tattoo guys. They have a shop and wanted me to do shirts for them but offered way too low. (They had the EXACT same type of professional heat transfered/Brand of T & size in their store for 3 to 4 times what they offered me!!!) I woulda made a small profit (with a lot of work) and it woulda been great to get a first order. I honestly think if I had gone in with a professional approach they way you described, I woulda done better. I wasn't really looking for customers, as I am barely a newbie here still, but just curious as to how I would handle myself.

Also, I didn't LIKE them. They were into Devil worship and all kinds of crap that I really didn't even want to be around. One question I have is, in dealing with a store: how do you know they are going to pay you? Say this tattoo guy wanted to buy (as he said) 75-100 shirts, you go home and make them and the next day he changes his mind or spent all his money on whatever, etc.

On a positive note, a buddhist/indian store lady just saw a shirt I had on and asked if I sold them and to bring them in. I have been waiting to make a professional presentation this time. I will heed all your wonderful advice in their, Badalou! You're such a great help in so many areas! Hurray for you!
 

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Doby said:
One question I have is, in dealing with a store: how do you know they are going to pay you? Say this tattoo guy wanted to buy (as he said) 75-100 shirts, you go home and make them and the next day he changes his mind or spent all his money on whatever, etc.
Get paid up front! Or, at least get a deposit to cover your materials.
 

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Doby said:
What kind of plastic?
go to clearbags.com and get this bag (#B811) It's great for packaging T-Shirts. Its $7 for 100 bags

21. 8 15/16" x 11 1/4" (227x286)
Crystal Clear Plastic Bags with Adhesive Strip on the Flap - Works great as a clear envelope for full sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" paper
#B811
 

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A lot of people answered Doby question.. As for as being paid.. I take credit cards so one of my comments.. ok, we have $400. and do you want to put that on your credit card or cash.. Notice I did not say check.. but if it comes up then they usually add, don't worry it is good.. So what do you do, cash the check before you start. If I am working with a well known group as I did with the Blues festival I get 50% up front.. A lot of people that order promotional tees know the process of 50 /50. If it is a store they may want terms. If they are a new little store.. I say after the first order we can discuss that as I want to be your supplier and work with you as a team.. BS.. mostly..
 

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You said that you are going into high end department stores - correct?

They are going to expect a lot out of the people they are dealing with because their customers expect a particular kind of product -- a high end product. Therefore, I think that it is important to have a professional and high end approach. On the other end, if you're going into a tattoo shop, you may not need to present the product as a high end product but you still need to present yourself as being very professional. If you don't, then they may think that you do not know what you are doing and that they can take advantage of you.

If you're going to people's office and you do not have samples that you can leave with them, then you should have a brochure and you should have a website. The bigger the brochure, the more expensive it is to print. If you have a nice small brochure that directs them to your website, this will go a much longer way because your website will be your true means of promotion. You could also set up your website so that if people want to see you, they can request to schedule an appointment. Or, better yet, they can place an order! :D

If you're going to this much effort - you should have your ducks all in place and make yourself as easy to deal with as possible. Give them all the information they need up front and show them that you are reliable -- you speak for your product. If they think you did a bad job in approching them or presenting your product, they will automatically assume that your product is bad too.
 

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Hello,
the way i wholesale to many stores in my area is, i take with me samples of the designs i like for them to cary in their stores.After going through the designs,they let me know what they are interested in.It will also be a good idea to have a color print out of your designs.Most of the store owners are mostly there in the morning- thats what work for me.I am sure if you go to any store they will let you know who does their buying and when such a person will be in.
However, if you are thinking about selling to the big boys, you will have to go through their headquarters (home office).Also, i will advice you to avoid going to to any store during their busy hours.Good luck,you can make it!!!!
 

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imageman said:
Hello,
the way i wholesale to many stores in my area is, i take with me samples of the designs i like for them to cary in their stores.After going through the designs,they let me know what they are interested in.It will also be a good idea to have a color print out of your designs.Most of the store owners are mostly there in the morning- thats what work for me.I am sure if you go to any store they will let you know who does their buying and when such a person will be in.
However, if you are thinking about selling to the big boys, you will have to go through their headquarters (home office).Also, i will advice you to avoid going to to any store during their busy hours.Good luck,you can make it!!!!
And also the worst times to see a buyer/owner is on a Monday or a Friday the most stressful days for most retail businesses
 

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I use to be a buyer and when I bought tees for the store I would notice that many or rather most people trying to sell their own line would come in dressed in business casual. It was like saying buy my tees but I'm too good to wear them.

The person I always bought from would come in wearing his tee with a huge hang tag attached to the front of his shirt. Every time I saw him on the street he would have one of his shirts on with tag. It was a great marketing ploy for him.

He made all of his cold calling on our answering machine during our closed hours. I liked the fact that he never bothered me during the day. If I spoke to him it was my choice to give him a call.
 

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He made all of his cold calling on our answering machine during our closed hours. I liked the fact that he never bothered me during the day. If I spoke to him it was my choice to give him a call.
Hmm, that's an interesting angle! Almost like sending an email that a person can read and respond to on their own time. Make your sales call during off hours and leave a message (maybe mention your website where you can view the whole line). Interesting :)

Thanks for sharing, lawaughn!
 

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I really enjoyed his call. When he had an appointment with me he would call in the morning and leave a message on the machine " Hey this is Billy, I just wanted to remind you that we have an appointment set at 2pm today. It suppose to rain later I"ll make sure I bring an extra umbrella if it is raining by then". Sure enough it would be raining and he would have a cheap umbrella that he just bought on the street corner.

Then there was this other guy that would take photos of his day trips with his tees on. He would go to the farm and you take pics of himself milking a cow, feeding pigs, pretending to have fallen off of a horse, etc, . Each photo he was wearing a different design. I would make copies of the photos and place them right above the shelf of the shirt. It was always a great conversation piece and another way to draw attention to his designs.
 

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Yo Thanks for the plastic tip! Yeah, I was not really trying to sell at the Tattoo Shop, just trying to see what it would be like kinda and you're right, the guy was trying to take advantage of me. I still haven't officially set up shop yet, but all these tips are so helpful. Thanks everybody!
 
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