Merchandising Apparel

Selling Apparel

Whether you decide to create your own line of branded apparel in your gym or stock some of the most popular shirts from loved companies your members will love the ability to easily buy related gear. However, you don’t want an apparel line taking away from your main purpose, to give your clients the best training possible, and grow your base.

Below is a guide on shopping around for and selling apparel in your gym.

First thing you will need when creating your apparel line is artwork. Get this done before you even think about what types of shirts you are going to order. Decide if you want your logo on the shirt, how big it will be placed, any quotes or graphics, etc. You can download a template for t shirts or shorts so you can start laying your artwork out.

The best programs for this are Adobe Illustrator if you are a borderline professional design guru or inkscape if you don’t want to front the costs on a design program. Make sure to save your files in some sort of vector format, like .eps or .png, this will allow the printers to scale appropriately without getting a grainy final result.

Make sure your artwork is branded but simple. A large logo with website is perfect, but if you are selling to members it might get boring. Keep your brand central, but mix it up with every order, adding a new graphic or quote (check out Da Font for tons of sick free fonts).

If you are going to screen print you will be charged for each screen. You need a screen for every color or placement – so if you have 4 colors on the front, 2 colors on the back and a print on the sleeve you are looking at 7 screens. This screen cost can kill any profit margins you might be making, although some printers will waive the screen cost if you order a certain minimum of shirts – this is often the best way to go.

Shirts and Sizes
Once you have your artwork in hand it is time to start looking for a printer. From the first piece of this series you will remember I stressed shopping locally. This will save you on shipping and you can often bargain better prices or reduced screen costs if you actually have a 1 on 1 relationship with the printer – and they know you will be coming back for more in the future.

In terms of sizing, you will likely need some smalls and larges for women’s but will sell mostly mediums. For men the smalls will hardly sell, with the mediums selling a bit more and the bulk of your sales in large and extra large sizes. The actual sizing of each brand varies, so see if you can get your hands on some samples first (another reason to print locally).

The brand of shirt you choose will determine the look and feel of the final product.American Apparel shirts are incredibly popular for their relaxed and washed blank t shirts, but there is often a premium to using this brand over something more generic like HanesAlternative Apparel also has some pretty cool blanks, although not all printers will use them as a supplier, so you will have to check with them.

Once you have decided on colors, sizes and shirt, and have your artwork in hand, you are really ready to shop for a printer.

Finding a Printer
There are a lot of factors that will go into finding a printer, but locality is really important. You might get it a fraction cheaper online, but returns might be a hassle if they screw it up. Google local screen printing, bulk screen printing or screen printing in [YOUR CITY] to get an idea of what is out there. From here is a bit of ground work that you will have to do. You need to compare t shirt selection, price, breaks and screen fees for each one. Figure out how many screens you have and what quantity screen fees apply to – we have had prints where the screen fee is almost a hundred dollars! Make sure you include any additional fees like setup costs, design costs or shipping costs. An hour or so of due diligence here can really save you money.

After you have searched for a local printer, see what you can find online, and compare. We have often found the local guys are cheaper, but less professional, so be ready for hiccups in service.

Selling your Apparel!
You finally have your shirts in hand! Awesome! You probably paid somewhere between $7.50-$15 bucks a shirt depending on the overall costs associated with printing and design. Your shirts should be able to sell pretty easily at $25 each, although I have seen them sell well at higher price points. Anything above $40 is going to be a tough sell though, so don’t get too greedy. That means on an order of 100 shirts you should be able to make $1000-1500 in profits! Woohoo! Pull some of that out to pay for the next printing, and the rest can go towards whatever floats your boat, improving the gym, better coaching, more classes etc.

To best sell your shirts make sure you market them, pump them up on social media, send out an email flash when you order them, a week before they arrive AND when they arrive, even a week or two after (the “shirts are going fast” email is lucrative). People often need to see something three times before even considering it, so make sure to ping them at least that many times.

Hang your shirts up in a nice grid for athletes to check them out daily, with some signage to let them know they’re on sale and the cost.

Last item, try and save the money for the shirts first, so you don’t have to get a sign up list. Having a sign up list inhibits future sales since people will often think “oh, I forgot to sign up, so I will wait until next time”. You want your apparel to be selling all the time, not just in single bursts!

Next up in our series is food! See what we think is great to stock for your members!

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