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I have a few general start-up questions--I apologize if they're really basic or if they've been answered before, I'm still a newbie!

I'm thinking of starting out small, offering maybe 2-3 designs on 1 type of t-shirt (and different sizes). My only printing experience so far has been a 12-pc order from Customink, which was very easy but of course expensive.

For my next step, I was thinking of ordering 100-150 of each design, and I was looking at places like rushordertees that provides the t-shirts. Then I read that it's more cost effective to order the t-shirts myself (blanks?) and then have a printer print them. Would that be cost effective for someone like me who's just starting out? I don't think I'm quite ready to have a business ID (??), so I don't know if I could get good wholesale prices. Plus, buying cases (most cost effective) sounds like a lot to me--but maybe it's not as bad as I think?

Second, when a printer prints a t-shirt, can you "own" the screen (if that's what it's called)? And then could you actually bring it to another printer, or does it "belong" to the first printer? Also, how does that work with copyrights/trademarks? I do plan on trademarking my design (weekend project!). I hope that's not a silly question.

Third, the t-shirts I ordered from Customink were American Apparel gym shirts (M304). After wearing and washing them for almost a year, I really like them, although they do run small. Also they're expensive; the quick quote from Customink for 150 shirts (1 color) was $8.21 each, although I guess this includes shipping and everything. Does anyone know the wholesale price of these shirts? Also, would comparable shirts from Bella or Alternative Apparel be less expensive/better quality?

I hope these questions make sense--I know I'll come up with more soon! Thanks!
 

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bruisergirl,

Wow, that's a lot of questions. Something I recommend all new members to do is to go through every post on the forum. This will probably take you a few days to do but it will answer 90% of your questions.

I'll take a stab at what I can though.

Don't be intimidated by getting a Federal Tax Identification Number (also known as an Employer Identification Number). With this, you can then go to your State Board of Equalization and get a reseller's ID. With the reseller ID you can open up accounts at wholesalers and purchase shirts in bulk and very cheaply.

Here is the link to get an EIN:
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html

I see you are in Chicago, so here is where you need to go to get a reseller's license:

http://www.revenue.state.il.us/TaxForms/Sales/index.htm

I believe the form you need on that page is the Certificate of Resale. Hopefully someone else can confirm that. I'm 80% certain.

There are a lot of options once you have your own cheap blanks. You can heat press your own designs using a printer at home or custom plastisol transfers. You could screenprint your own shirts. You could use a cutter and vinly. It all comes down to the amount of money and time you are willing to commit.

Details on all of the above options can be found using the search function.

Good luck.
 

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1. I would say it would be more cost effective to buy the blanks yourself and have a printer do it. And you don't have to buy cases. For example, staton wholesale gives you the case price on everything if you order online. So you could get 1 shirt at case price if you wanted to.

2. It depends on the printer. If you buy the screen and take it to the printer and ask if you can take it after the job is done they may go for it. Or you can just have them make the screen and buy it off of them that way. I think it would be better to bring the screen in yourself...as with the blank shirts.

3. American Apparel is expensive to buy from. For example, to get the dozen price break 12 shirts have to be of the same size and color. But if you're doing only a few sizes and colors it shouldn't be too bad. As far as which is better, it's all a matter of opinion. Personally I like American Apparel the best. Alternative Apparel is good, but they have huge collars on their shirts. Bella is more towards the Hanes quality. Both of those brands are usually slightly less expensive than Alternative Apparel.

Here is a link to their price list: https://forms.americanapparel.net/prices/US.html
 

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then I read that it's more cost effective to order the t-shirts myself (blanks?) and then have a printer print them
For me, I prefer letting the screen printer handle the ordering of the t-shirts. Less stuff for me to deal with.

Second, when a printer prints a t-shirt, can you "own" the screen (if that's what it's called)?
Most likely, the printer will keep their screens and get rid of them if you no longer want to use them as your printer.

Also, how does that work with copyrights/trademarks? I do plan on trademarking my design (weekend project!). I hope that's not a silly question.
You retain all "ownership" of the actual design when you take it to a screen printer.

Also, would comparable shirts from Bella or Alternative Apparel be less expensive/better quality?
AmericanApparel is always going to be expensive. AlternativeApparel are close in price (maybe a few cents difference), Bella are a little less expensive.

It's hard to say about the quality, since that is so relative. I personally prefer AlternativeApparel, but that doesn't really tell you anything if you haven't seen it for yourself. It's good to get samples and then you can decide which one you prefer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Everyone, thank you for all the info! I have a few more questions:

Is it more common to own the screens after a printer makes them or for the printers to keep them? I guess ideally you would stay with the same printer, but if you decided to go to another printer, it seems like it would be more cost effective to be able to keep the screens so they don't have to be remade. Or is it considered "rude" to ask for the screens? I'm unclear about the etiquette here, and I wouldn't want to offend a printer by asking for ownership of the screens if that's not normally done.

Thanks!
 

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Yo Juliet,

I personally find that it is very important to get as many suppliers and printers as possible. Just to have their contacts just in case stocks run out or a certain printer is charging you a bit high for certain designs and you might want to get quotations from others.

For my side, in Singapore, I have a lot of shirt suppliers. I buy the blank shirts and send them to my printers for the printing. Different suppliers might give different prices for different materials of different shirts. (That's 4 'different' in a sentence. haha) I would say you have to get many suppliers to stand by.

For silkscreen block, though one say that I could bring it back with me, and when I asked for it, he told me he washed it away. I guess it's ok that the block is kept by them, as long as they don't wash it and they keep it. Just in case you want the same design but with a different printer, you can just ask for the block from the 1st printer and if you happen to not get it back, guess you should just do another 1 at the other side. Blocks don't really cost a lot if the quantity of shirts you are doing is high.

I hope this will help you, it not, I'll try again. (".)
Good luck for your biz.
 

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as a screen printer what we do is unless someone orders and re-orders we washout the screens, if you wnat to go somewhere else we will give you the art file, but not the screen, when you pay a screen fee it means you pay to have the image burned onto the screen. Set up fees are to actually align the screen and things like that.
 

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luvtofiddle said:
as a screen printer what we do is unless someone orders and re-orders we washout the screens, if you wnat to go somewhere else we will give you the art file, but not the screen, when you pay a screen fee it means you pay to have the image burned onto the screen. Set up fees are to actually align the screen and things like that.
Then it's quite useless..
 
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