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How do companies like LocalCelebrity / Palmer Cash / Vintage Vantage take it to the next level? I'm talking about entering their name into google and coming up with 20+ retailers and walking in the mall and seeing their designs in 2 - 4 different stores like Urban Outfitters?

What does it take? Is it as simple as funny designs on a cost-effective shirt? Or is it more of a sales/marketing technique?

Are all these online retailers affiliates or wholesale accounts? How many employees do some of these online retailers have? How many shirts a year do they sell?

Thanks any and all responses.

Mike

P.S. - what do you guys think of my designs? Any input?
 

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I'll try to answer this best I can, but there is a lot more that goes into it...

First of all brands like Vintage Vantage and Local Celebrity have been at it for years, I've been visiting VV since they didnt make t-shirts they just sold thrift store goods on ebay. They have come a LONG way and it has been through trial and error that they have been able to find a formula that works. Personally, I think they all just got in at the perfect timing, just when funny slogan t-shirts were hot.

This is all speculation, but all three of these brands built huge followings before they took there stuff to stores. And I would say that Local Celebrity is the only one that has really gone the retail route, besides VV that can be found in Urban.

Your designs are fine and they fit into that niche well, but remember slogan t-shirts are a dime a dozen.

Just a tip, but VV keeps people coming to their website by offering them content that they enjoy reading.
 

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Hi Twin, I think you are right, there are many t-shirtwebstores, more in the USA than in Europe probably. Do you, and others, have any idea if and how the t-shirt market will change? I mean: will the slogan t-shirts disappear? What will become popular then? A.s.o. I know forecasting is not easy, but maybe there are things visible already.
 

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Essentially... time. There are any number of factors involved, from price to design quality to advertising... but I'd say the most important factor is time. It takes a lot of time for a company to expand like that, to get recognized by search engines more, to be talked about by other people, etc.
 

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SpacemanFL said:
Just one thing... what the heck does NPC stand for?
In what context? In the context of games (which is where I'm used to hearing it) it stands for Non-Player Character.
 

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Maybe I can look at this from an artist point of view. As far as getting recognized its alot of hardwork and timing and it usually takes a long time, there are no overnight success stories. I am in the graphics end of this business which translates to I dont make shirts I make the graphics for them. I checked out your shirts and I thought your sayings were cleaver but I have to be honest the art could be better just remember sometimes simpler is better. Hope it helps.

John
 

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Thanks everyone - appreciate the insight and the feedback. I do all my designs and I'll be the first to admit the artwork could be better! I'm having a ton of fun doing it and would love for this to takeoff.

Back to Vinci's question - where t-shirts are going w/ catchy slogans etc. I've been thinking about this too and my guess is that Funny T-Shirts are here to stay (I hope!). One thing I have picked up on are places like Threadless, Defunker, etc...this very urban/unconventional style of t-shirt design really seems to be growing. I'm worried that this might be the next big thing - because I'm probably going to have a hard time creating designs like that on my own. I'm making an assumption though that funny t-shirts will be around forever and we'll just have to pay attention to the evolution of them to offer our clients what they want.

Any one have additional observations/predictions for the funny (or general) t-shirt market?

Mike
 

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Spaceman: Thanks! =) No 'l' in my though, hehe.

NPC, as previously stated, does stand for Non-player Character. Its a roleplaying term that refers to characters in the game or story that are not controlled by actual people or players.

I wish I wasn't so busy lately, I've barely had a chance to add any new designs to the site... well, mroe to come eventually, anyway ;P
 

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TSHIRTHUB said:
What does it take? Is it as simple as funny designs on a cost-effective shirt? Or is it more of a sales/marketing technique?
Next level = Celebrity endorsement.

Sponsor an up-and-coming skateboarder, actor, celebutant, etc in your area and make sure you get a few pics of them in the shirts. If you've got the cash, use them in ads placed in national magazines-- College photog majors will jump at the chance (for free) and your models will love the exposure (for free).

Nobody just wants a t-shirt, they want to be 'that guy' wearing that shirt. The internet doesn't reach everyone with this message.. think big!

C.
 

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One of the biggest steps you can take to get your t-shirts to that "next level" of being in retail stores is to go to a tradeshow.

Tradeshows are where retail buyers specifically go to find new clothing lines to carry in their stores.

They range from the biggest (Magic in Las Vegas) to other smaller tradeshows around the US.
 

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Rodney said:
One of the biggest steps you can take to get your t-shirts to that "next level" of being in retail stores is to go to a tradeshow.

Tradeshows are where retail buyers specifically go to find new clothing lines to carry in their stores.

They range from the biggest (Magic in Las Vegas) to other smaller tradeshows around the US.
Great tip Rodney,

Any good one's in the Northeast good for start-ups?
 

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Here's another question. Is it required to get in with these retailers to "make it" to the next level? I'm looking at the Magic tradeshow in Las Vegas, and I'm not sure I'd want to be flying all over the country setting up tradeshows and schmoozing. I just want to design and sell funny t-shirts online from my own office.

Obviously - there are different levels t-shirt companies operate at, is it possible to be very successful and not have to go retail? Is it possible to remain relatively small and still do very well at this?

If so - can someone show me some examples of websites that are doing this right now (and if it's your own - please share some of your less protected secrets!!).

I work a 9-5 right now and have been dealing with corporate politics and the daily grind up that ladder. That's what I'm trying to get away from. How is dealing with these larger retailers - has anyone dealt with them in the past? Was it an easy venture or a daunting task?

Thanks -

Mike
 

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I am doing well right now. I have found my niche, selling political t-shirts. The problem with selling retro, or funny shirts is that you have thousands of competitors. I have less than five. You need to find an area of the business that is untapped. For instance, rodney found clown hating t-shirts. I dought he has many competitors. T-Shirt hell invented offensive t-shirts. They found their niche. It is going to be difficult to compete in the highly competitive world of funny t-shirts. It will certianly take time. The first thing that I would reccomend for you (if you are looking to make it big) would be to design a website that makes you look alot larger. Right now, your site has the ma and pa feel. This can be ok, but not if your looking to make it huge.

As far as large retailers, I dont ever deal with them. My wholesale customers are small shops generaly. I love selling retail, becuase you make alot of money fast. Selling to large retailers is a pain in the ***. They dont like to pay you. And they like to buy things for next to nothing.
 

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I couldn't agree more about my competition. I'm in a sea of funny t-shirt websites - specializing in the best way to stick out. I like your concept and can see why you are doing well. It's all about what your passion is - I just want to make sure it's worth my own pursuing. Since I work a 9-5 (correction...8 - 6) my time is very valuable. In addition to the $$ being invested, I'm probably investing 20 times that amount in my own time.

Great advice on the local/small retailers - I'm worried though that since I don't have time during the work day how can I approach these folks. I would like to think that the online business will grow to a point in a year that I can transition this to my full-time job, and then focus 100% of my time on expanding into the retail market.

PS - Do you advertise on this site? How does it work for you?

THX - Mike http://www.tshirthub.com
 

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Obviously - there are different levels t-shirt companies operate at, is it possible to be very successful and not have to go retail? Is it possible to remain relatively small and still do very well at this?
You have to define "very successful", because that is a very relative term.

There are MANY "small" sellers/one many operations using cafepress/printmojo or shipping shirts from their home that make good money. Whether it meets your standards for "very successful" is a whole 'nother question :)

If you want to stay home and not go to tradeshows, I think there is a "limit" to what you can do based on time and marketing constraints, but who's to say that "limit" is not enough for you?
 

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I imagne T-shirt Hell probably does not have many (any? No idea) retail outlets simply because most places wouldn't stock those kinds of shirts. And I do believe making a few million counts as 'very successful' ;P
 

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You really have to invest in your brand, and that means advertising. And to me, that does not mean buying more google adwords.

Also, I think differentiation, which can work, is largely a myth. Ultimately, being better is what sells. Yes, there are a million funny t-shirt sites out there, but if you have a good funny t-shirt site, you will be successful. So while it's cool to specialize, it's also viable not to. In other words, there are a sea of comedians out there, and if you're a really funny comedian, you'll get noticed. It doesn't matter if there are a ton of other funny comedians.

Is Lexus all that different from Mercedes, or from BMW? Is a Bud light all that different from a Miller lite? Coke from Pepsi? At their most basic, they are parity products, but they have their own brands. A brand is what you must create to be successful.

I ramble, but my point is this: It's scary to spend money on your business, but if you don't go balls out, what's the point? You will not get to the next level without moving out of the ol' comfort zone and investing in your brand. Trade shows. Ads. Celebrites. Product placment. Links. Affiliate programs. Do it.
 
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