What's Considered a Large Quantity?

Over the years, I've come in contact with several business owners who have asked why the cost of a custom printed garment is so expensive. They only need 1 or 6 or 10. I've also had prospects tell me they would "throw me" a large order of 24 pieces because I was a small business owner or a local business owner and they wanted to show their support.

As is my practice, I provide price options before actually performing the work. That's when the education begins.

Often my work is compared to pricing at WalMart or Target. That's simply comparing apples to oranges. At these large retailers, many thousands of shirts are printed; not just a couple dozen. They are not personalized with a business's logo and/or employee name. It certainly makes sense to me that something built completely for you would obviously cost more than something that can be bought even at Macy's, not to mention souvenir stores. Have you checked the price there? (I guess that could be a discussion for another time.)

So, what goes into the cost of a completely custom garment? First there is the artwork. It doesn't matter whether I create those graphics or whether another graphic artist creates the graphic, there is some cost involved. Even if it is typing simple words, it takes time and resources to make this happen. Next is the garment. Despite popular belief, I do not weave nor manufacture tshirts in my office. I get them from the well-known manufacturers, and it costs money to have them sent to me.

The final, and most complicated part, of this process is the imprinting of the image on the garment. There is a cost to get the artwork on to screens used to print on the garment. If there are multiple colors in the artwork, each color will have to be applied separately and dried in between applications. Therefore, there are additional costs for this complete process. In the case of screen printing, if there are less than 24 pieces being printed at one time, a less-than-minimum cost is attached because it takes time to set up the presses and that cost is usually averaged within a larger order, however it needs to be done each order and that is a per-job cost rather than a per-piece cost. When printing small quanities, that cost must be recovered, thus the additional fee. If the art is to be embroidered, the art needs to be converted from a traditional computer file into a file that the sewing machine can read. The cost is based on the number of stitches within the image.

In the end, you have a completely custom item that was designed just for your use. And when you only have a few items, the cost of a basic tshirt can definitely be much more than buying a generic tshirt off the shelf. However, when all these costs are averaged, it's easy to get to a lower per-piece cost when the quantity is much larger. I have seen many instances where the difference in total cost is only $50 when the order amount is doubled. It could easily reduce a dozen shirts from $25 each down to $15 by ordering 36 pieces. With all the setup costs involved, a single tshirt could cost $75. And it is in your best interest that I then ask, "why only do a few, when you can have many walking billboards?" Is a single shirt, only for your use, the most cost-effective way to spend your advertising money?

Ultimately, for the work that is involved, much larger quantities than 24 or even 36 are considered large orders. If it is a garment, 144 is a medium order and 1000 or more is considered large. The same could be said for drinkware. But when it comes to other types of promotional products, 250 to 500 pieces is a small order, 1000 to 2500 is a medium order, and 5000 and above is more in line for a large order. This is how a tshirt is produced for $3 and a good quality pen becomes 20 cents a piece.

I want to help you get the most bang for your advertising dollar. So please don't think I'm rude or intrusive when I ask questions and/or encourage you to buy a larger quantity of items. I'm simply thinking about how much further we can go to get you more business.