Do screen printers keep an inventory of blank t-shirts in stock?

Most screen printers do not keep an inventory of blank t-shirts at their print shop. By most, I would estimate it is well over 90% of the screen printers in the United States do not keep a well-stocked inventory a blank t-shirts. There are many reasons for this with money being the most important one.

The holding cost of keeping an inventory of t-shirts is pretty high and the cost of most standard blank t-shirts is relatively low. So putting the money out to get the shirts and had them sitting on your shelves can quickly add up to a higher price per t-shirt than just waiting to order as needed. This way you can transfer the holding cost to the wholesalers and not carry it on yourself as a business.

There isn't much of an upside to holding inventory to begin with. With some brands and styles of t-shirts having upwards of 50+ colors and sizes from youth small to 5XL, it would be hard to know where to begin. If we took a select range of sizes and a limited range of colors, the chances of that selection being wanted by customers is very slim. If there is even just one shirt missing in the order did the whole job will have to wait to be printed when all the t-shirts are present.

In the past decade the t-shirt wholesalers have done a great job of expanding their warehouses to try and encompass the United States with one day delivery by regular ground shipping. This means that an order placed in the morning one day and the blank t-shirts will be to the printer the very next day in most cases. This kind of the rush turnaround was not even possible years ago.

Not having and inventory does mean that t-shirts cannot be printed the same day they are ordered. However, I've yet to meet a screen printer that offers that service even if they do have the right inventory. It is very difficult and potentially costly to try and turn around an order that quick.

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