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I wanted to get some thoughts on a business opportunity that I have.

Someone at my day job has hired me to get some t-shirts printed up for their family reunion. She knows about my clothing line, and asked if I may be able to get some shirts printed for the same price as the place she normally goes to get her shirts for family reunions, and said she would rather let me make some money than someone she doesn’t know. I looked into it, and agreed to offer my services.

She gave me some general thoughts about the artwork and I came up with something that she liked.

I ordered the kind of shirts she wanted, wholesale, and took them to my normal printer to have printed up.

She has referred my services to several others, and now someone else would like me to do the same for them: Get them competitive prices on screen printed shirts.

I’m able to make a profit because I get the shirts wholesale, take them to my printer who does not charge me for printing on my shirts. Every local printer I have contacted (included the one I use) would have charged the lady at my job the same price or more on the total job because they are making a profit on the sale of the shirts, not just the printing.

I thought this could be a good little side business, and was just wondering what the best way to approach it would be. Should I tell prospective customers that I don’t actually do the printing of the shirts, but offer my art services, and shirts at wholesale prices? In which case they might be wondering what they are paying me for, even though the prices would be the same or lower. Or should I just say that I offer screen printed t-shirts and go with the method I described above, with buying them wholesale myself, then getting them printed?

For the lady at my job, I didn’t really do much work. She paid me upfront. I ordered her 100 jerzees shirts from SSActivewear, took them to my printer, and will pay my printer from the money she gave me. The remainder is quite sizeable for not much work at all.

Any thoughts?
 

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that's pretty cool man. I would roll with it, why not? The only part I don't understand is your printer not charging you... If your printer is making a profit from printing and you're making the profit on the blank mark-up then that's a total win-win in my opinion.

The print shop gets business that they may not have received (you're bringing it to them), you're making a commission on providing artwork, ordering shirts, making it happen, and you're customer is getting a competitive price.

That's the American Dream, man, you're living it. Tell me when your book deal goes through cause I'll definately buy a copy. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think it's a win-win also.

I just don't want them to change their policy of not charging extra to pring on supplied shirts. If they do that, I might be in trouble.
 

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What you described happens all the time :) There are some companies that do contract printing and there are other companies whose whole job is to just send sales to a screen printer.

You're actually doing more work than others by buying the blanks. But I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work for your local customers.

I think with some price shopping online, you might be able to find pricing that is the same or lower than you're getting by buying the blanks yourself. Then you could even cut out that part of the process. Sounds like you have a good relationship with your printer though, so that might not be the best avenue for you.

I think either method of presenting it would be fine. You may only have issue if the printer makes an error and you have to buy more t-shirts or if there is a problem between the artwork and the actual printing (the more customers you get, the more varied little issues you'll see popup).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey, thanks for the input.

I think I'm going to do just as jdr does, contract it out and keep it to myself (well kind of, you guys know, but shhhh....). I'll just say that this is what I do, and let them assume I'm doing the printing.

Rodney said:
I think with some price shopping online, you might be able to find pricing that is the same or lower than you're getting by buying the blanks yourself. Then you could even cut out that part of the process. Sounds like you have a good relationship with your printer though, so that might not be the best avenue for you.
I did buy the blanks myself. That's where the big part of the profit comes in!

If problems do come up, I think I'll be able to handle it. My printer has always been great handling everything with me.

Thanks again.:)
 

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I think that is a great thing to do.. In fact my daughter is school teacher and they give shirts to the kids which have been screenprinted. I do not do screenprinting so I got a quote from this great company up in Sacramento ahh eemm.. and they gave me a terrific price. I can make a really nice profit and I know the work will be great and I can beat the guy who did their stuff last year. Just make it part of your business package. It is called jobbing out. As long as your customers happy that is what's most important.
 

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This is a great idea, but I wonder how much you usually sell one color prints for. I've figured that I can sell a one color print on white or color beefy t's for $5 and still make 100% profit by printing them myself. Each color extra, I would charge 1$ more. Can you sell them that cheap with that kind of profit margin using this method?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If I wanted to sell them that cheap, yes I could still make a profit.

This was a two-sided print job. 1 on the back, and 1 on the front. My printer charged me $1.10 per location. That's $2.20/shirt. If it were one location it would have only been $1.10/shirt. I got the shirts wholesale, at the average price of about $2/shirt (varying sizes).

I sold these shirts to her for $10/shirt, regardless of price.

Yes, you can print them yourself and make 100% profit and sell them cheaper, but I made much more than that, and while the shirts were actually getting printed, I was out getting more business, and working on other businesses!

That's the real beauty. I haven't really done any work, but if I looked at how much I've made compared to the actual time spent on getting these shirts printed, it's unbelievable!
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
Yes, you can print them yourself and make 100% profit and sell them cheaper, but I made much more than that, and while the shirts were actually getting printed, I was out getting more business, and working on other businesses!

That's the real beauty. I haven't really done any work, but if I looked at how much I've made compared to the actual time spent on getting these shirts printed, it's unbelievable!
That's exactly what we do as well. And you're right, its more profitable in the long run because you're free to continue selling and doing other things. One of the downsides, however; is that its difficult to control scheduling and quality sometimes. But if you find good vendors to work with its great.

As far as telling your customers how you're doing it... I don't usually tell mine unless they ask. If they do, I let them know that I work with a couple of different screen printers who give me wholesale pricing because I bring them so much work. My pricing is just as competitive as if they had gone direct, and its true. So my customers don't mind at all because they are dealing with me, someone who they are already comfortable with. Also, I tell them that I work with a couple of different printers. Each one has different capabilities, minimums, processes, and areas of expertise. That gives them more options to get there job done right and within their budget. They really seem to appreciate that.
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
I sold these shirts to her for $10/shirt, regardless of price.
Woah!

That's definitely a price that only works because people know so little about garment printing and can't be bothered calling someone.

It's amazing what the general public will pay that a business would just laugh at.
 

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Solmu said:
Woah!

That's definitely a price that only works because people know so little about garment printing and can't be bothered calling someone.

It's amazing what the general public will pay that a business would just laugh at.
Rember they were for a family reunion though, so effectively "retail" - she's thinking of herself as the end customer, rather than someone getting a bulk job done by a screen printer, iykwim?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Exactly. I think you will find that the general public would be happy to have a shirt made exactly the way they want it for $10.

Of course it would have been different if she didn't see herself as the retail customer, but that's exactly what she was, so she didn't have a problem with $10.

Like I said, the place she normally gets her shirts from charged her more, $15 I think for 150-200 shirts.

She got 100 shirts from me for $10. It was a no-brainer for her. Someone she knows and trusts, plus she got them $5 cheaper.
 

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Would you say that most customers are retail though? Like that price was fine for her but would a school looking for tshirts for an event find that price acceptable?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A school would probably order more, but depending on if they wanted to make money selling them or not, would be the key.

I wouldn't have any problem adjusting my price. The big key is that I'm not doing "much" work, but if I buy the shirts wholesale and have the printer just charge me for printing, I'll always be able to match what they can get it done for by going straight to the printer. This is because all the printers around here mark up the shirts dramatically.

For instance, if the school went directly to a printer and said "I need 1,000 white shirts, with 3 colors in the design.", the printer will give them a price on the total job. That's artwork, setup fees, shirts, and printing. Whatever they charge the school, I can charge the school the same amount, still make plenty of profit, and I didn't have to take the time to do the actual printing of the shirts.

So the price that I charged for the family reunion shirts, I could easily do with most any retail customer. Wholesale, I could probably still make a good profit if the order were big enough.
 
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