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How to sell t-shirts
July 1, 2005 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Setting up a booth to sell t-shirts. Any advice or suggestions for how to go about it?

I'm thinking about getting a booth at an major industry convention this winter and trying to sell some of my t-shirt designs that are targeted to that particular profession. Since all of my previous selling has been done online through CafePress, I have no idea how many t-shirts I should stock, what sizes I should order in, or how many designs I should offer.

Any suggestions or resources? I'm especially interested if there are any statistics about what percentage of people buy each size of t-shirt. And is it better to have a number of different designs and products (I'm also thinking about buttons and tote bags), or better to focus on what I think would be my top sellers?
posted by MsMolly to Work & Money (11 answers total)
 
MsMolly - space is at a premium so I'd go with what you expect to be your biggest sellers. You can have a few different designs, but don't go crazy.

In terms of sizes I think that much depends on the industry that you are targeting. If you're targeting a bunch of programmers you would likely want to stock differently that if you were targeting a bunch of fitness professionals.

If the show allows, I would find a way to hang shirts from the rear of the booth to display the artwork of each design.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:47 AM on July 1, 2005


My biggest complaint going to music events is that they never have small t-shirts for men, so I end up having to buy a gross, baggy medium. Plenty of baby smalls for the ladies, though. I guess that's one indicator of shirt size demographics.
posted by Rothko at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2005


Yeah, baby smalls. Maybe some spaghetti-stringed tank tops. Those are the only t-shirts I would buy.
posted by Specklet at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2005


another vote for making sure you have enough small sizes. i can't count the number of times i've wanted to buy a t-shirt, but the only sizes left were too big.
posted by clarahamster at 1:16 PM on July 1, 2005


On the flipside, I cant tell you how hard it is to find a cool t-shirt in XXL...

Then again, it's generally hard to be cool when you are XXL....
posted by quibx at 1:45 PM on July 1, 2005


Maybe the reason smalls are are so hard to find is that there are too few people buying them to make it worthwhile to carry them? In other words, the fact that a few MeFites can't find their (perhaps uncommon) size should not influence your (bulk) purchasing. My recommendation would be to contact your t-shirt supplier, or another t-shirt supplier, and find out what their most-ordered sizes are.
posted by cali at 1:58 PM on July 1, 2005


In other words, the fact that a few MeFites can't find their (perhaps uncommon) size should not influence your (bulk) purchasing.

That was my point, cali.
posted by Rothko at 2:00 PM on July 1, 2005


Hiya, fellow female apparel seller here :)

I've sold my wares (both Cafepress and non Cafepress stuff) at a few conventions and at some sports competitions.

My main market is comprised of geeks, gamers, hackers, and tech lovers (sound familiar to anyone here?). At gaming conventions I bring (and sell) from Small up to 3X shirts. At a specific game event I've even brought and sold up to 4X.

I highly suggest bringing smalls in unisex sizes... those can fit males and females. If you're bringing baby doll shirts, bring up to XL in those... even those who *can* fit in a small sometimes want one size bigger.

In terms of the general t-shirt industry, the most popular t-shirt size in the US according to sales figures is XL followed by Large. A recent trend seems to be for a slightly more fitted tee though so I've been seeing more orders for Mediums from guys than usual.
posted by Fricka at 3:59 PM on July 1, 2005


Thanks everyone! Theses are some helpful suggestions. I'm glad that people have said to bring smaller sizes. A lack of small shirts is something that really annoys me too. I bought a shirt from a vendor last week at the library convention I'm hoping to sell at next year and his shirts only went as small as M, which is giant on me, and his kids' shirts only went as large as kids' M, which is way too tiny. I thought it was really strange because quite a lot of librarians fall between those two sizes. :) Now I have to alter the tee I bought so it won't look like a tent!

Anyone have any suggestions on good t-shirt suppliers too?
posted by MsMolly at 11:37 AM on July 2, 2005


MsMolly: craftster.org has a section on Tips for Participating in Craft Fairs. Lots of threads there about how to set up your booth, how to watch for shoplifters, how to run the cashbox/etc., how much stock to bring, pricing, lots of stuff. Plus, if you post a thread with ideas/pictures of your booth, they'll critique it for you. There are also some sections on screenprinting, clothing creation and alterations, and other business discussions, so someone there is bound to have some good suggestions about t-shirt suppliers.
posted by heatherann at 1:28 PM on July 2, 2005


the easiest way to organize your shirts is to roll them up (lie the shirt down flat like you are going to fold it, fold the sides in, then roll). run a piece of masking tape around it to keep it rolled, and write the style and size on the tape. makes it easy to find what you need and keeps them from all getting wadded up.
posted by radioamy at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2005


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