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Money on the Move

(June 2014) posted on Thu Jun 19, 2014

Beef up your bottom line by performing on-site apparel decoration at events


Want to make money? Go to where the customers are. Some apparel decorators are taking that adage quite literally, traveling to events to perform on-site embellishment that includes direct-to-garment digital printing and, in at least one instance, screen printing. For some, the market for on-site embellishment is their primary business. For others, it’s a niche add-on to their brick-and-mortar operation. Regardless, practitioners say good margins and growing demand make on-the-spot imprinting a good game to be in. “We’ve been experiencing explosive growth – about 125% last year,” says Troy De Baca, owner of Denver-area TCT’s Mobile Screen Printing Lab.

De Baca performs point-of-purchase screen printing at happenings that range from networking events and corporate outings to private parties and fundraisers for nonprofits and worthy causes. The serial entrepreneur does the printing on a four-screen manual press that’s fitted into the back of a 1985 Grumman Kurbmaster truck that he customized to accommodate the machine, supplies, T-shirts and, for bigger events, a small conveyor dryer. “You need a good truck,” he advises, “and you always have to test your equipment prior to an event.”

De Baca conceived the business concept based on the belief that buyers are concerned that they’ll fail to sell all the shirts they purchase and thus be left with boxes of worthless inventory. As a remedy, De Baca creates one or a number of screens with predetermined shirt designs for clients and then shows up at their events to silk-screen on demand for attendees. “We usually sell to 20% to 25% of people at an event,” says De Baca.
For one huge networking event at the Denver Convention Center, De Baca printed 1,300 shirts in about four hours. On that job, he brought along an additional press that was set up next to his truck and manned by experienced friends. De Baca has also printed at the Denver Broncos cheerleaders’ Sprit Showdown, a competition centered on youth dance and cheer teams, as well as fundraisers close to his heart, including relief efforts for flood-ravaged Boulder County. “I want to use my company to help people,” says De Baca, adding that he’s interested in franchising. “I’d love to have a fleet of trucks doing this around the country.”

As De Baca scores success with mobile screen printing, other decorators are achieving excellent results with point-of-purchase DTG printing. From about 10 months a year, Sue Asplin and Gene Wodzicki are on the road digitally printing garments at state and county fairs and other events. The partners behind Color Image Designs/Road Warrior Graphix use an Anajet mP10 digital printer to produce stock and custom graphics on T-shirts. “People will take a pic with their cell phones and we’ll print it,” says Wodzicki, noting the 100% ringspun cotton shirts he embellishes sell at $15 to $20. “There’s a very high mark-up.”

Copyright 2014 The Advertising Specialty Institute, originally in Wearables, May 2014. Used with permission.


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