I can remember, not all that long ago when the economy was chugging right along and doing business was quite easy, compared to the many challenges we’ve incurred over the last two and a half years. The Columbus t-shirt printing industry was affected greatly, because so much of what we do, is event related such as golf benefits and cancer walks. People stopped congregating and things that we took for granted, such as sporting events and everyday life like eating out in a restaurant, all came to a screeching halt.
Many companies were forced to go out of business, but somehow we were able to hold on. A good percentage of our overall business is corporate so we had a fraction of what we would normally be catering to because people all of a sudden started working remotely from the safety and comfort of their own home. They weren’t needing any custom embroidery because they were working in their pajamas from their kitchen table. Then all of a sudden after about a year-and-a-half into it we had some hope show up over the horizon in the way of a vaccine. I remember thinking that we had turned the corner and things were going to get better fast and they did for just a short time and then all of a sudden we had an election and things changed. We encountered new challenges such as a supply line crisis. What used to take two or three minutes to locate t-shirts became a two and a half hour ordeal. If we were lucky enough to find some then, we would have to order them immediately or five minutes later they could be gone. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have a customer ready to actually place an order and not be able to find the blank apparel.
I have a friend of mine who owns a Columbus based screen printing company that ordered a digital t-shirt printing machine and was told it would take about 10 working days in order to arrive at his place of business. Three months later it still hasn’t arrived, as it was somewhere between here and China on a cargo ship. There was no room to receive the shipment at our domestic ports. I’m sure this problem isn’t going to last forever. However in the meantime, it certainly has its challenges.
Another challenge that blindsided not only the custom t-shirt industry but so many others was not being able to find folks who are willing to put in an honest day’s work. These screen printing presses and custom embroidery machines don’t run themselves. I have a lot of customers who owned restaurants and they are dealing with the exact same issues regarding not being able to find help. It makes me wonder what’s around the corner.