Diary of a T-Shirt Intern: Selling Offline

Diary of a T-Shirt Intern is a weekly column written by Bo, a T-Shirt blogger at Loving This Tee who is also affectionately known in the tee community as dunz0. Bo will be tracking her experiences as an intern at Tilteed and sharing her thoughts on the strange land that is Portland, Oregon!

So we finally did it. We got away from the office and sold some t-shirts in person!

There’s this event in Portland called Last Thursday, where a bunch of vendors, musicians, and artists come out and set up along Alberta Street every last Thursday of the month (as the name suggests). The street gets closed down for several blocks for about 4-5 hours, and it’s absolute madness but in a good way. The first time that I attended Last Thursday was in June but that was only to browse. This time, we would be selling our tees.

Tilteed

In preparing for this event, one of our main questions was how many different designs and how many of each size to bring. That’s a very tough question, especially when you can’t exactly gauge what the shoppers’ tastes are. We had a lineup of eight catalog tees that we stocked in every size, along with leftover Tilteed Limited stock and several random sizes of other catalog pieces. We have experimented with some designs by bringing one or two of them so that we can see our customers’ responses. Every venue will be different, though, so I doubt that we’ll get a good formula for doing this.

When we first tried out selling at small events, I was initially worried about having black shirts sitting out in the sun. I once kept a Doberman Beanie Baby in my mom’s car, and over time that dog was no longer black. That was a silly story that I should probably be embarrassed about, but I think it’s a good explanation of why you should not let your products sit in direct sunlight for too long. We ended up getting a tent after our very first event, though, so problem solved!

Tilteed

Before we started selling Tilteed t-shirts at small fairs in Portland, I had never had any sales experience. Most of the jobs that I have held have been research positions, and the closest that I have gotten to selling anything for pay was when I worked at Subway back in high school. Well, that and when I hustled hard as a little 5th grader trying to sell $200+ worth of gift wrapping paper and other useless, overpriced junk from a school catalog in order to get a Magic 8 Ball in return.

So along with having no sales experience, I’m also not a big people person and rarely approach strangers just to say hello. Because of this, I was rather shocked to learn that I like selling t-shirts offline. Actually, I’m going to say that I don’t like it but that I absolutely 100% LOVE it! It was great getting to converse with everyone who came up to our tent and talk about all of our designs and the artists who created them!

Tilteed

One thing that I’ve learned is that if someone looks in your direction, even for a second from 15 feet away, you should greet them. If you do, there’s a high possibility that they’ll approach you and look at what you have to offer. Sometimes the people you don’t expect to be interested in your products end up loving them, so don’t leave anyone out when you’re greeting people.

We’ve done three events total now, and one thing we’ve noticed is that there will be slow periods and then all of a sudden, everyone will be swarming your tent at once. So if you’re experiencing a lag in customers coming up to your store front towards the beginning of an event, don’t call it quits just yet!

Tilteed

In conclusion, our first Last Thursday definitely blew my expectations away! It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you’re sharing artwork by some of the most amazing illustrators and designers from around the world with people who may not otherwise see these works. This is one of the reasons why I love graphic t-shirts as much as I do. You get to be a walking canvas every single day if you choose to.

Tilteed

We’re actually going to be at the Hawthorne Street Fair this upcoming Sunday (August 15). You should come and hang out if you’re in the Portland area! For more information, check out Think Hawthorne and click on “Happenings.” Hopefully I’ll get to see some of you!

- Bo aka dunz0

Be sure to check out the latest tee at Tilteed. The shirt is called Drowning Out The Sun and is on sale now for $12 but you can save $2 by using the coupon code “TILTCOTY” at checkout!

Drowning Out The Sun

Drowning Out The Sun

5 Tips That Will Improve Your Online Store

Places like Big Cartel make it easy for anyone interested in selling their custom merchandise to folks in InternetLAND. Big Cartel offers a slew of options and the ability to customize individual stores. Here I offer a few easy tips that people can use to enhance their online stores, like the ones on Big Cartel, and a couple of more complex tips that can be used by people that have coded their own shops and built their sites from scratch.

Each of these tips will hopefully increase user interaction and improve the way that people browse and purchase tees from your site!

1. Large Previews. One of the things that annoy me the most about online stores are small previews. If I can’t get a nice large view of the product then chances are I won’t buy the item. Thumbnails are too small to get an idea of the detail of the design. Threadless uses nice and large preview images for each of the shirts that they sell. They use previews that are 640 pixels wide – this is a nice size, anything larger might be overkill. 

2. Actual Product Shots. Photoshop mockups are great and look nice but what’s even better are actual shots of the printed item to supplement the mockups. You can do this by doing you own photo shoot or you can make it interactive by encouraging buyers or fans of your brand to send you their photos. Another idea would be to set up a Flickr account for your brand and have a Flickr group so that your customers who are Flickr users can upload their photos directly to your group. 

3. Make Your Site Social. Comments are great to building a community. Why not have the ability for users to make comments on individual product pages. iTunes does this quite well by allowing members of the iTunes community to comment and rate tunes that they purchase. Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave a comment and even rate tees that you purchased on the product page of the design you loved? 

4. Top Sellers List. Having a section that lists the top 5 or 10 designs in your store is a great way to sell even more of your most popular items. People tend to gravitate toward items that they know are popular. These can either be based on sales, ratings or a combination of both. Having a Top Sellers or Popular Items list points these customers in the right direction! 

5. Out of Print Gallery. Indie tee designs are pieces of art and they should be treated as such. I often wonder what out-of-print designs from my favorite designers looked like. Why not have a section set up that showed off your designs that people can NO LONGER buy. Make people want what they can’t have! This will make people want to buy items that you currently have in stock (in fear of them being sold out and gone forever) and will provide word of mouth (they’ll start talking about your old stuff that they can’t have).

Do you run your own online store and have tips that you would like to add? Feel free to mention them in the comment section below! Think these ideas suck or wouldn’t work – let me know why!