I just returned from the Imprinted Sportswear Show in Atlantic City, where I was impressed by a phenomenon that has been growing for several seasons now, and doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down. Let me say this: Nothing is normal here! In the past, I’ve talked about the way the industry is EXPLODING. This time it is even more obvious, and not just to me. About 18 months ago, it seemed the market was really beginning to percolate. Now it is at a full blown boil. Confirmation that the marketplace is exploding, or better said—it’s a tsunami—was not only evidenced by the great attendance at the show…every exhibitor, every magazine editor hadn’t seen anything like it. Everyone I spoke with expressed the same amazement. I spoke with an embroidery consultant…she said “SOMETHING’S HAPPENING.” When I asked her, “What?” She said, “I don’t know—my classes for embroidery are jam-packed, my phone is ringing off the hook for consulting.” And even though it was slightly snowy and the weather forecasters were trying to convince everyone of a winter storm, the only effect this had was that the show on Friday didn’t pick up until a bit later. Saturday was super packed…with visitors clamoring to learn more about the industry, or looking for ways to expand their businesses. It was a record show for everything and everybody that was there. From equipment and heat press sales to material and transfer sales. I must give kudos to our staff who conceived of and manned the GroupeSTAHL T-Shirt Shoppe. It allowed more people than ever to experience heat printing hands on. And not only did the show visitors learn something, we learned just how many people have never used transfers or cad-cut materials before! I believe that this show is only a microcosm of what is happening in the whole industry.
What is causing this boom, this explosion, this tsunami of interest in t-shirt printing? We are hearing this from screen printing and embroidery equipment sellers as well. Is it the underground economy (people looking to earn more off the radar, hobbies turning into real businesses?) Is it the big companies that are advertising custom t-shirts on television? (you know who I’m talking about) What is driving the demand for people to start up a t-shirt business? It’s most likely a combination of several factors.The reality is, it doesn’t matter WHAT is causing the demand. The question is? Are you ready to compete? Are you ready to offer your customers the on-demand personalization they have come to expect? If you’re one of those eager to grow your business, heat printing may be part of the answer you are looking for. If you want more information on how heat printing can help grow your business, Great Garment Graphics is an excellent resource, with webinars and videos on all types of heat printing. At the booth in Atlantic City we had a big emphasis on bling, which is still an important and growing trend. But whether you are ready to add bling or you just want to offer one color transfers and letters and numbers, one thing is for sure, you have to have a #heat press in order to compete.