T-Shirt contest sites seem to come and go every other week and I think that the main reason is that the people who start them don’t know how tough it is. I suspect that there is a bit of a Field of Dreams mythology around them. You know if you build it they will come. This is definitely not the case. There are many factors to consider if you want your site to be a success. You need an easy to use and easy to understand website. You need good marketing skills. You need money. You need patience. (I’m probably leaving out a few things here but that’s not really the point I’m trying to make.) People think that because the industry leader, Threadless, started out with nothing that they can do it too but those days are over. Threadless was a pioneer in the crowdsourcing business and they had a community before they had t-shirts. Also there was very little competition at that time compared to now when everybody and their dog has a t-shirt store.
Not that long ago I posted a list of t-shirt contest sites and I bet if I went through it today I would find more that have gone and could probably find a few more to add to it. One of the sites that appeared recently was called the T-Shirt Vault which I mentioned. I knew about it but I intentionally didn’t add it to the list because I had my doubts about its success as I mentioned in a previous post. I have been busy recently and didn’t realize it but it has already gone down. It probably lasted just weeks. Let me quote myself below:
I think the T-Shirt Vault will have a difficult time pulling it off as that is a lot of prize money they have to pay out which means they have to sell a hell of a lot of t-shirts just to cover the cost. I think that they might break even around the 1000 t-shirt mark which is pretty tough for a new unknown brand.
I have heard that the official line is that there were issues with the credit card processor and maybe it’s true but I don’t believe it. Someone on Emptees said they received this explanation:
Hello, I regret to inform you that our credit card processor has decided that our business model is to risky for charge backs since our prize money is so high. We have tried to work it out with them even to the point of allowing them to hold the funds for the 180 day period a customer can submit a charge back. But they will not change their minds. Of course this is horrible news. We have put a lot of time and money into this idea and it was going well.Our first week of sales were great. Almost a thousand shirts sold. The credit card processor will be issuing a refunds to all buyers. I do apologize for us having to cancel sales and issue refunds. It is a problem we could not of foreseen. All of the files you submitted will be deleted.
I think the real reason is that not enough shirts were sold even though they claim 1,000 shirts were sold in the first week. If a 1000 shirts were actually sold in the first week you would find a way to make it work. Again, this is just me being skeptical, I have no proof that they are lying. I have been selling t-shirts through PODs for many years though and have been making decent money with it too but it took me a while to build a regular stream of income. I had to learn SEO, marketing and other tricks to get my stuff noticed and even then the result was not instant. So I doubt that the T-Shirt Vault could have been so successful. (On the other hand they did have better designs and cheaper shirts than I sell in my POD stores.)
Anyway RIP: The T-Shirt Vault. You can read more about how the T-Shirt Vault came apart at Emptees.
Other news that I noticed is that Metal Ink, which was included in my giant list of t-shirt design contests, is up for sale. I’m guessing that this means they were struggling to make sales rather than they have made so many that they want to retire early by selling their profitable business. If they had a really attractive business they wouldn’t have to advertise their own sale on the front page.
“If you do buy them because of this post I would love to get that 5% finders fee.”
Finally I would like to quickly mention Teextile or should I say Teextile 2.0. I have to admit that when they first appeared I was impressed by their glossy website and their ever changing lineup. They even sent a tee over for a review and I definitely have no complaints about that. It came to my attention a while ago that not all was well with them business wise and there were a lot of unhappy people. I think I tweeted (God, I hate that word.) about it too. They went offline for a bit and came back with a new attitude and a new website. Apparently though, the new attitude, like the new website, wasn’t all that different from the old one and they are still having the same issues. I won’t get into detail here because they have been talking about over at BuyTees.net and they know more about it than I do.
But one thing is for sure, if you haven’t even sent a t-shirt and the customer asks for a refund you should make it happen as soon as possible. On a personal note I am not that happy that I lost my Teextile points when they “upgraded” to Teextile 2.0. But I’m not sure they will be around long enough for me to get enough points for a tee or that I’ll be around long enough to receive them.