As the economy implodes, I’ve been watching my mailbox fill with more, and more, and more offers from the services that print bumper stickers, buttons and t-shirts with various designs on demand. These offers promise me $5 off a purchase of $20, free shipping, extra business cards included, even a chance to win a prize… if only I will buy something, anything from them.
I can smell the desperation in those messages, and the desperation is understandable. Budgets are getting tight all over America, and one of the first things to go in any clampdown on expenses is discretionary spending. A bumper sticker, a button, or a t-shirt is a discretionary purchase, an optional item that might help one spread some message but really isn’t necessary. So of course visits are down to print on demand services like CafePress:
Of course sales are down at print on demand services like CafePress and Zazzle. My question isn’t even how sales are at outfits like these. My question is, which print-on-demand service will close first?
Will CafePress be the first to close down its shop? It has a lot of designs to sell, but it has also recently expanded into international sales, recently laid down somewhere between $15 million and $20 million to buy the niche service Imagekind, and there are rumors and denials that CafePress borrowed a bit less than $10 million from venture capitalists. Last year’s overhauls, which involved the introduction of a slow design system and the slashing of commission payments to designers, has users disgruntled. Big $$$, unhappy people.
Or will Zazzle be the first to close down its shop? This printer’s website background color is black, an advantage that should never be dismissed. But this outfit spent last year spending some serious cash to acquire the disaster called Goodstorm and apparently pay off Cafepress users in order to switch all their products to Zazzle. Big $$$, happy people?
My bet for the service to stick around is Skreened. It has a small number of employees, a small need for equipment, and no need for big overseas purchases, since its clothing is all made in the USA. In lean times, smaller operations can keep right on chugging at a smaller scale without all the corporate bloat to support. No big office complex in trendy, expensive California. Working at its small scale Skreened innovates and attracts innovative designers. In my opinion the people at Skreened are most likely to continue succeeding at what they do.
Plus, I just plain like ’em.