Most BJCs have produced T-shirts printed with the convention logo to sell. These are a great souvenir and can generate some income for the BJC.
Recent years have expanded into hoodies, towels, hats, strappy tops, tote bags and much more.
Choosing what to order
Having several colours of t-shirts "hedges your bets" if you can't decide on colours, but you will get better bulk discounts with only one colour. The number of colours in your logo may affect the price. The more colours and sizes you decide to stock the more likely you are to have left-over stock.
CREW like to have special crew shirts. Being recognisable from a distance is both an advantage and a disadvantage! Even the laziest of lazy people usually change their shirt more than once a week; crew members who may spend hours shifting fencing will be more smelly and therefore even more in need of a change of shirt. So buy them more than one shirt.
Women form a large proportion of your customers, and many are keen to buy clothing that fits them. Lady-shaped garments will sell in a wide variety of sizes.
BJC 2010 sold kid sized clothing which sold well. However the margins are smaller, as it wholesales for the same price as adult clothing or more.
Videos of the convention used to be sold, which you could pre-order at the convention, but with the advent of youtube and other internet movie sites they are now less popular/financially viable.
Promotional clothing varies widely in quality. Some of the t-shirts you can buy are of very thin fabric and don't wash well. It doesn't cost much more to get good quality well made clothing. You can have a guess by reading the description of the fabric carefully (higher gsm usually means thicker fabric) but the best thing to do if you can is go and look at a sample. It will be worth it ten years after the event when people are still coming to conventions wearing your merchandise.
Suppliers will tell you their lead times, that is: if you send them perfect artwork tomorrow, how long it should take before they ship the items. Revolution Shirts quote ten working days.
This doesn't mean you can put in the order ten days before the event. Other things that will take time:
- Your team will want to choose the products, sizes and colours. For some reason everyone will have an opinion on this and it will take forever to make a decision.
- You need to have the graphics ready in an appropriate format. That's not necessarily the same format as you have on your website. If you have a graphic designer you will want to get him/her involved in plenty of time.
- Usually there will be some back and forth with the supplier over precisely how big you want the graphics, where on the garments, etc etc. This can take a week.
- The merchandise will need to be shipped, unless you can pick them up yourself.
- Some of the products you pick may not be in stock at the printing company. This means that it will take an unspecified amount of time for the printer to order these products from their suppliers (could be weeks). If you want to carry anything out of the ordinary, ask the printing company in plenty of time whether they carry stock of the items in question, and how fast they can get hold of it.
- Ideally you need time to sort out any problems with the order when it arrives. If the printing company have made a mistake they should be able to do a rush job on any corrections, but that plus shipping will still take time.
Buying figures are available from BJCs 2007, 2008 and 2010 (at least) if you ask them nicely. Sales figures are more useful than purchased quantities, there is no point making the same overstocking mistakes. Popularity of a colour, design or even weather/temp will affect sales.
Be careful to not buy more merchandise than you can sell, any item left afterwards can cancel out any income from an item sold.
BJC 2008 sold out and started taking written orders on some forms that were printed out.
This caused plenty of problems caused by people who were unable to correctly spell their own address, or to give any other contact details.
BJC 2010 sold "pre-orders" of merchandise on the website and could easily have sold more merchandise afterwards in the same way. Selling through a website means that the address is validated (e.g. must have a postcode) and the user is forced to enter some further contact details. Plus the data is safely in a database rather than floating about in a pile of forms.
BJCs 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 used Revolution Shirts in Leicester as their clothing provider.
BJC 2012 used their website to sell left-over stock after BJC.