There are a lot daily pop-culture t-shirt websites. We should know: Day of the Shirt is tracking 45 of them right now, as you read this. But, not all of them last forever. We went on a dinosaur hunt though our archives and discovered 19 t-shirt websites that had gone extinct. Perhaps you remember them:
Another Fine Tee, Arteesel, Blue Box Tees, Comic Strip Tees, Companion Tees, Cosmos Tees, Gimmick Tees, Goodjoe, Limiteed, MuzikShirt, Nowhere Bad, SpookyTees, Tee-1000, TeeRaiders, Timey Wimey Tees, Tshirt Fight, Ubertee, Weekly Shirts, and Zebra Tees.
These websites didn’t just sell pop-culture designs, many had a unique hook. Goodjoe focused on community and volunteerism. Comic Strip Tees printed a monthly comic. MuzikShirt focused on music and audio paraphernalia. Zebra Shirts printed every design in black and white. SpookyTees were, well, spooky with a Halloween horror theme all year round. And you can probably pick out the websites dedicated to Doctor Who (hint: there are more than one). And T-Shirt Fight posted 2 designs and let buyers choose the winner.
So what happened? We can’t say for certain, but sometimes it’s too much of a good thing. For a small 2-3 person company, their most valuable commodity is time. And that time has to be divided into several different areas, such as finding artists, ordering materials and blank t-shirts, printing, shipping and fulfillment, customer service, marketing, and, of course, updating the website itself.
An unexpected flood of orders can actually be bad for business: not having enough blanks in stock may cause printing and fulfillment delays; even a tiny percentage of packages lost in transit results in a big absolute number. And when customer service gets overloaded, unhappy buyers take to social media and initiate expensive charge-backs. Even after things recover and customers receive their orders, it can be enough to throw in the towel.
T-shirts are a durable commodity and all of us fans are what keep these small businesses around the world designing, printing and shipping t-shirts every day. While running a design and production shop can be daunting (and rightly so) we take solace that T-shirts and their designs can live on in our closets and dressers long after the website stops loading. After all, that’s what keeps us coming back for more.