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Custom Screen Printed Transfers & More

Printing T-Shirts at Vendor Shows, Pop Up Shops, Holiday Markets & Events

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Hey Friends, Dave here with Transfer Express and today we’re talking about decorating onsite and vendor shows, pop up shops or holiday markets!

Now, bringing your heat press to print t-shirts on-location is a great idea for any small business- mainly because it minimizes your risk and still allows you to haul in the profits. But we’ll cover everything from why print on-site all the way to some helpful tips to keep in mind so you can make the most out of your next show!

So are you ready to take this show on the road? Let’s hit it!

Just like I mentioned off the top, the number one reason for decorating onsite with a heat press is to minimize financial risk.

Traditionally to sell at a pop up, marketplace show or any event, you’d have to have a whole bunch of different styles preprinted. Which can be a hefty up-front cost. Maybe you don't print enough and run out, losing out on sales- or on the other hand, if you print too much, then with all of those pre-decorated styles, what doesn't sell, sits in the bins until the next event, and then the next event until eventually its out of season or style, all turning into loss for your business.

This is where decorating onsite comes in. Bring the transfers and the blank apparel, and print it as the customer orders it. Allowing for your customer to pick which graphic and color they want, and then you produce, saving that extra blank inventory that doesn't sell for another day.

Of course, with printing on site, we have to mention the power requirements for your heat press. Here, if we were using our Hotronix Auto Clam we have here, we’d need a 110v outlet with 15 dedicated amps. Otherwise, we may run into tripping breakers or the heat press not reaching the correct temperature.

It’s definitely something to check into with the event organizers or the event space. Just like the video we put together about printing at farmers markets and art festivals, but typically for these indoor events, bringing your own generator is out of the question.

After power, is inventory management. It’s helpful to organize as best you can before you arrive. Big plastic bins or totes always worked great for keeping the blanks clean and easily portable (think about bringing a cart; t-shirts get heavy REAL quick), but using cardboard dividers between sizes can help keep it organized in transit so they don’t shift together, then you can use tape on the outside of the box to label where the sizes are.

You essentially want to be able to quickly pull the correct size when it’s time to print, and easily know when you’re out of stock- in this case, you can cross out the size marked on the tape, or just remove it so you’ll know what’s still instock with just a glance.

As for your point of sale display, you’ll probably want to pre-decorate a few different styles for a mannequin, or to hang up. People love seeing the fit and finish of the tees and the ability to touch the fabric.

I like to recommend keeping the display simple and clutter free, with prices clearly marked on the apparel. Speaking of pre-decoration, printing inside tag prints on your apparel before showing up can give you that nice branded touch and make your apparel appear like it’s private label, not just a Fruit of the Loom or Gildan blank! It can also help with easy size sorting like we talked about, too!

One great way to display the choices in apparel colors or graphics is using these foam board squares. Using dollar-store foam board panels, all you have to do is cut them down to 12” x 12” squares and then stretch the t-shirt around them- either with just some spray adhesive or with some staples in the back to hold them in place. Then with just some velcro, you can easily hang them almost anywhere!

It’s best to keep your displays or backdrop up high. It allows more people to see it from a distance when the front of your booth space gets crowded with people.

Keeping it simple in your product selection is key, too! Choices are great for your customers, but too many choices can lead to confusion or overwhelm a customer to just walking away, so don’t bring more than 3 or 4 different colors or styles of apparel or tons and tons of designs.

Of course, you’ll still need to to produce the custom full color or digital transfers, so limiting the designs of what you’re bringing can also keep your costs down and the sales flowing.

Do some research for the event or think of what time of year it is to help inform what styles to bring. Is it fall? Some cozy fleece sweatshirts or hoodies will likely be best sellers. You get the idea!

The same goes for what sizes to bring, too. Think of the audience and keep data. If you return to the show, there’s nothing better than your own historical data for what sizes you sell the most of. As a general rule, large t-shirts account for 30% of all t-shirt sales with medium and extra large coming in second and third at just over 20% each. Past that, smalls and 2XL account for about 10% of sales each  and 3XL and up account for only 3%. Which can be a good starting point if you’re just getting started.

One last tip I’d like to add before we wrap this up: freebies. Having some low-cost branded materials like stickers or postcards available to include with sales is great. They make your customers feel appreciated and spread some brand awareness for your business. You can tag them with your social media channels to improve your following, or maybe even have a coupon included to spur some repeat sales from your new customers somewhere down the road.

I hope these tips help your t-shirt business at your next pop up shop or vendor show! Here at Transfer Express, we’re dedicated to helping apparel businesses of all sizes succeed.

If you have any success tips of your own, let us know! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on all of the helpful educational and inspirational videos we’re posting every week.

Until next time, I'm Dave, happy pressing!

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