I’m constantly reminded of how quickly things can change and what I used to think was simply a given, it’s not taken for granted. Life that we knew has been made radically different since 2020. It has proven itself to be one of the most complicated and difficult years to manage since I’ve been in business.
There has been a significant impact on every different type of industry and the St. Louis screen printing and custom embroidery business is certainly no exception to that. Looking back, I’m just blown away with the obstacles we had to overcome such as labor shortages as well as supply chain problems. What used to take just a few minutes to locate blank t-shirts and other types of apparel now can take hours. Assuming we are eventually able to locate it, we have to purchase it immediately or just a few minutes later it could be gone again. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a customer who is already to pull the trigger and place an order only to find out, we can’t locate the product needed.
These types of challenges have forced many St. Louis t-shirt printing companies to reevaluate their daily operations. It has also forced us to lower our expectations regarding what was considered to be a productive week or not. It wasn’t very long ago when I was trying to set the bar very high in order to recharge monthly goal profits, but now we are considering it a win if we are just able to meet our overhead. The crazy part is that this all has happened in a very short amount of time.
I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention and this necessity has forced our hand to come up with innovative ways of marketing ourselves and doing business. For example, instead of trying to land big fish, such as 1000 or more units at a time, we are now selling a lot more digital t-shirt printing applications and lower quantities. This requires us to not only find the blank product much easier, but it also allows us to have a better profit margin for each individual piece sold. The same goes for custom embroidery. Sometimes bigger is not better and less proves itself to be more.