Finding a manufacturer
Again, the best way to find a good manufacturer is to ask another band where they got their stuff made. If that’s not possible, Google is your friend - find a few printers local to you, and email them for a quote.
Make sure you give them as much information possible about what you want, so they can quote accurately. For example, for t-shirts this would include:
- The quantity you want
- The colour(s) of the t-shirts
- The number of colours in your artwork (attach a low-res sample if you can)
- Where you need them delivered to
Printers will often quote the ‘per item’ price as well as a ‘set up’ cost for the screens, so you might need to do some maths to arrive at the total cost. Make sure you’ve accounted for delivery and any taxes too.
Selling on the road
Selling merch on the road is a great way to pay for your gas, and help make ends meet if you’re playing shows for a low guarantee. It’s best to call ahead and make sure the venue has an area you can use to sell from. Some venues also insist on running the merch stand themselves and taking commission, so check before you play.
You’ll need to keep track of what you’re selling, so you can make sure you’re not
losing money, and you know when you’re getting low on stock and need to re-order. The easiest way is to have a pre-printed sheet which breaks down each item and size, against which you can tally your sales for each show. After each show, you can count the cash against the sales, and note down the quantity remaining for each size.
If you’re attracting fans to your website or Facebook page, it’s a missed opportunity if you’re not offering them stuff to buy once they’re there. Services like BigCartel give you a free shopfront where you can easily add your products and have fans pay by Paypal. You just need to keep track of stock levels, and make sure one band member is in charge of packing and shipping the orders.
Another solution is to use Toto Merch. which prints merch ‘on demand’ when a fan buys it, and sends it direct to the fan. Once you’ve uploaded your designs, all you need to do is promote your store - Toto does the rest, and sends you whatever profit you’ve decided upon. That means you can offer items you might not be able to afford to print in bulk, and never have to worry about shipping or going out of stock.
What difficulties have you had when getting your merch together? What’s been successful for you? Let us know in the comments!