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My first t-shirt stall, the trials and tribulations of a novice.

3766 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Kim_t2_au
Hi all

This past weekend I had my first stall at a two day event. Let me just quickly summarise by saying that at the end of the day (days really) I am happy with how things went. You can now skip the rest of this rather long post if you want; if not read on at your own peril.......;)

OK. I have been working on a series of designs for my shirts for about two months now and have come up with around 50 designs or so; most of which relate to roller skating as DD1 skates. Some of the parents at my local rink saw my designs which I had really only been working on for my girls and they encouraged me to take the idea a little further. Long and short, I asked the local skating association if I could have a stall at the next competition. I waited and waited and waited for a reply an time was ticking along and I really needed to get an answer as I hadn't ordered any t-shirts and I hadn't ordered my vinyl and eventually a fortnight before the event I got the thumbs up. Oh boy, was I busy from then on.

I decided that to minimise my costs I would cut and weed the designs in advance and apply them to the t-shirts while the customer waited.

First things first I had to order the vinyl. I had had some samples sent from China and I was impressed by those so I sent for rolls of my basic colours and then bought a small amount of the other colours from an Australian supplier. I can purchase a 25m roll of vinyl out of China for the same price as buying 3.5m of vinyl here in Australia! Yep, crazy aint it?

Next was ordering the t-shirts. I had been talking to a really helpful supplier and so I placed an order there. Great supplier, really happy with the service, gonna stick with them.

Ordered more bling from my lovely man in Hong Kong.

Next came the hard part, deciding what designs to offer. I found this to be a particularly difficult task as I like all my designs but eventually I narrowed it down to 24 designs, of which 6 (I think) were bling.

OK, all good so far. At this point I am cruising along quite happily. My vinyl arrives safely, my t-shirts arrive safely and I have prepared a number of the bling transfers ready for use. I decide that I had better cut and press display examples, yep that went well but it took a bit longer than I anticipated. Not a problem, still one day to go to the event so I will spend that day cutting and weeding.

Now I am clearly on a tight time line and you can guess that anything that could go wrong did. Firstly I was so nervous I could not keep a thing down so goodness only knows how much time was lost with me running off to the loo, but lets not take that comment any further. This nervousness really surprised me as the clothes I produce for Wheelie Wear have been on display before and that didn't worry me, I've hauled them around phyisos and OTs and that didn't worry me but the idea of putting my "artistic" designs before the scrutiny of others had me really jangled. The only thing I can think that may explain it is that with Wheelie Wear part of my aim was to design a range of clothes that did not look out of the ordinary in any way, that appeared just like everyone elses clothes; this time I wanted my designs to stand out and be noticed. Strange really, you would think it wouldn't have worried me.

Back to the story, we are counting down the hours at this point and I am madly cuting and weeding between talking on the great white telephone and my laptop decides to have a seniors moment every time I cut a different design. Great, more time lost shutting down and restarting the machine. I still don't know what the problem was, I suspect it was a case of my nerves causing me to make silly errors.

Finally it is time to pick up the kids from school and go to the bank to organise the float. Pick up the kids (thank goodness I got the right kids) and got to the shops and go to the bank..... there is no bank. HUH! OK, I'll go to the ATM and get cash and then go to a different bank and get it changed up. I had a little difficulty changing the money as I the amount I wanted could not be split into the denominations/amounts I asked for. The teller asks me for my name and phone number and I just look at him like he is from another planet; I knew who I was etc but for the life of me I couldn't answer, I just kept staring at this poor man who must have thought I was a total imbecile. After being asked 3 times for my name and phone number I finally manage to get my brain to work my mouth - not usually a problem, more likely to be a problem with my mouth working without my brain. Phew money changed, go home (with the kids) continue working.

About 4 hours later at the dinner table I suddenly realise the reason the teller hadn't been able to split the money like I asked was because I had asked for $20 notes and I had meant to ask for $10 notes. Big mental slap to the forehead. I then tell my mother (who thank goodness had cooked dinner as I don't think I should have been let loose anywhere with sharp impliments at that point) about the bank situation and she is gobsmacked as our local branch of the bank I use was not only shut 12 years ago but the building was demolished!!!! The suburb where I have lived for about the last 13 years is officially part of the city but it really is still a village and there isn't lots of banks and shops; there is only one shopping area and only 2 banks so it isn't like I hadn't noticed that it had closed.:rolleyes: I think I can safely say that I was a little stressed at that point.

Kids fed, me and DH fed; push on with preparing for tomorrow. I worked until 11pm and called it a day and fell into bed.

Saturday morning arrives. Everyone breakfasts and it is time to pack the car. Being a compulsive list maker everything I need is itemised and sitting waiting to be packed in the car. Every item there has be brought to our home in that car so no problem with any item fitting, just a matter of shuffling things around. That lead to the first hitch.... when most of the things were collected I didn't have the kids with me so the back seat to could be laid flat but this time DD1 was competing in the event so she had to travel with us as well. Hmmmm, eneded up having to take two cars which we hadn't planned on but that is easily overcome.

Off we go in our two cars with me in the lead and DH and DD1 following. I have been going to this sports centre for about 4 years and yet this time I managed to totally miss the turn off. It was only when the main road ended in a T junction that I realised that I had merrily sailed past where I needed to be. Not a problem, check the map and take a rather torturous route through the back streets but we get there and not too late.

Set up the stall and start selling.

Sales went pretty well. We sold out of Size 14 black t-shirts by early afternoon so that is something to remember for next time we do a stall. The response to the designs was really positive . A couple of good things came out of the first day in that a few people asked for business cards. The other good thing was that I had previously approached the owner of the local rink about selling my shirts through the skate shop and he had not really been particularly encouraging but he was at the competition and saw the shirts and told me that "We MUST talk!" so that looks positive. I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to buy the bling transfers to apply themselves and that was fine by me but I felt a little sheepish saying to them that I could only do it if they didn't mind the design being on used transfer tape! I hadn't planned on selling the bling as a stand alone item and hadn't taken any extra transfer tape; if I needed more transfers I was reusing the tape I had on hand. Guess that is another lesson I learned.

Oh yer, a further lesson I learned... if you are weeding a design and stop to press a shirt, don't accidentally put that nice hot shirt ontop of the pile of discarded vinyl as the scraps stick to the back and ruin the shirt. Sighhhhh:mad:

All sounds good doesn't it? Except.... during the event I then had an allergic reaction to something. I have some nasty allergies but luckily haven't had an anaphaltic reaction for a few years now. I had eaten a sandwich for lunch and I wasn't feeling so good but I thought that was probably because of the stress, the lack of food the day before and the lack of sleep but I am standing there having a conversation with someone about designs for male figure skaters and I start to feel the reaction beginning. I can feel the intense itch starting on my forehead and quickly moving down my body, I can feel my eyes and lips swelling. Within about a minute and a half I can feel that the lumps are breaking out on my face and I know that within about another 2 mintues I am going to look like something that has crawled out of some secret govenerment research facility. I am trying to politely get rid of the man so that I can fall on my handbag and find my antihistamines but he isn't taking the hint and worse still he is trying not to stare at me; he keeps looking away from me and to the presentation I had running on my laptop but his eyes keep being drawn back to my forehead and all I want him to do is go away. FINALLY he leaves and I dive onto my bag and find the drugs. At that moment DH returns and the lady running the canteen next door comes to say hi and see how I liked my sanga. Ah that's nice you say but the lady is a Dr who knows from previous conversations about my daughters allergies and she sees my face and want to help. She kept offering to go and get me different antihistamines and was fussing and all I wanted to do to take my tablets and sit down and rest. I am grateful she cared but at that point all I wanted to do was crawl away somewhere dark and rest as I knew from experience that I looked a sight and I felt even worse.

OK, drugs kicked in, allergic reaction over and the day is almost over. Day continues pretty good, a few quiet moments but on the whole fairly steady. We have sold shirts and also taken orders where we had sold out of a particular size/colour/design.

Get home (without getting lost), had dinner and went back to work cutting some designs I had run out of during the day. The laptop/cutter plays up again but eventually at 10pm I figure out that it was a blunt blade that was the problem all the time. Such a simple little thing and it caused such a delay but by then I was so tired I just wasn't thinking straight.

Go to bed and go to sleep as we have to leave the house by 8am the next morning.

Sunday I wake up to DH saying "It's 7.33", we hit the floor running. Get breakfast, shout at the kids, clean teeth, shout at the kids, get dressed (no time for a shower, phewwww smelly Kim), shout at the kids, pack the bits back in the car that were taken out last night, shout at the kids, drive out of the driveway like a possessed demon. OK, I am a plump middle aged lady who had a child in the car so I didn't really drive around corners with only two wheels on the road, but I did stick exactly on the speed limit and not one kilometer an hour under it.

Manage to arrive at the sports centre without getting lost and 10 minutes early; how good is that?

Get set up for the day and discover that somebody has half-hinched 8 size XL t-shirts the day before. As well as the skating crowd there were hundreds of netballers and their parents there as well as the centre must have about 3 dozen netball courts. I truely hope that was someone from the netball or someone else in the centre that stole the shirts and not part of the skating fraternity; potentially someone we kno, who knows we have put our own hard earned cash into the business. I can't even take the attitude that someone liked my designs so much they stole the shirts as the shirts were blank. Oh well, I think DH was more upset than me as I had only wanted to have one example of each colour and size shirt out and he overrode this decision as he didn't want to keep having to reach into a box to get a tshirt everytime someone wanted one. Personally, I just chalked it up to experiences as we all know that anywhere Joe Public is things get nicked.

Sunday was much quieter and not much went on in the way of sales although I took more orders. Neither of the girls wanted to go home with their grandma after DD1 skated so by lunchtime they were whining. We had intended to stay for the remainder of the comp but then DH started to whine that he wanted to go. I could put up with the whining kids but a whining husband was one set of complaints too many for me. Personally I would have liked to stay another couple of hours but there you go.

So, summary, sales were OK, not brilliant but OK. I got future orders, gave out business cards and have a good shot at gettting my designs sold at the local rink. Another positive thing is that DH saw the numbers of netballers that were there during the day and now wants me to get on and start developing some netball designs and wants to see if we can get permission to sell to the netballers. I suspect that he has visions of retiring to some warm secluded island on the proceeds; I won't break that dream just yet as it is him that is bankrolling this latest venture.

An interesting thing we noticed is that the designs were displayed on both white and black fabric, with about 3/5 being on black and the remainder on white but we only sold 2 designs that were displayed on white fabric even though, I think, the best designs were on the white background. Next time I think I will try and put all the designs on black as the look more dramatic.

Sale of shirt sizes/colours. Lots of size 14 black. Sold one red shirt, 3 white shirt and everything thing else was black. Guess I need to buy more black shirts.

Next thing for the shirts? Development of the online shop, probably on eBay and then start looking at the various local sporting groups and approaching them with some designs with a view to attending their events.

Other positive things? We had an enjoyable 2 days, spoke with lots of lovely people, got really great feedback on the designs and the best, the absolute best, the far and away top notch joy for us was that DD1 won a bronze medal for her figure skating. She has been skating for about 4 years now but this was only the second competition she had entered and the win has been a HUGE confidence boost for her and it has made DH and I the proudest parents on this continent. YAYEEEE FOR AMBER (lots of parental hugs and clapping):D :D :D.

Sorry the post was so long.

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Great story Kim......:)
Kim, you need to get a couple of EpiPens, and have them with you,or close at all times. The life you save, may be your own. Sounds like a groovy time at the rink though.
What a charming tale. With all the nervousness going into it, didn't it feel great to overcome all the doubt and look good doing it (hives aside). What fun :)
Kim, I have my first show coming up next month and I am so nervous about it! I loved reading your story -- thanks for sharing itl.
You've got waaaay too much time on your hands - maybe you should consider freelancing for your local paper? ;) It was very entertaining reading :)

Congrats with your first event! Allergy aside, sounds like you had fun and learnt a lot.
Glad to hear you had success. I'd love to know what area of the country you were in and what stock you took with you (size and colors). We are about to participate in our first event as well so any information would be helpful.
Glad to hear you had success. I'd love to know what area of the country you were in and what stock you took with you (size and colors). We are about to participate in our first event as well so any information would be helpful.

I am in Perth, Western Australia.

We took kids sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 Adult sizes L and XXL. Only sold a couple of adult tshirts but sold all my size 14s and took orders for more. Have not bought any more of the large adult sizes but have added adults small and medium and beefed up the 10, 12 and 14s. Took black, white and red. Sold 1 red shirt and three white shirts and lots and lots of black shirts. Am about to start using glitter vinyl so am expecting the black shirts to become even more popular.

Thanks for the info. I see a lot of black being sold on our website as well. Seems to be very popular!
Great story and thanks for taking the time to share it. Lots of good info that other people who do events can learn from.

Also, congrats to your daughter. Competing takes guts and she should be proud of her accomplishment.
i cant believe I just read that entire post! I dont even read that much for school!
Congrats on the event and hopefully one of many great shows for you and they will start to go a little more smoothly I promise!
no picstures?
Yes, but they are of our daughter with her medal rather than of the stall. :D
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