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I would be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding Photo Gift Products that work in your outlet especially if they work well and contribute substantially to your weekly takings.

For example do you print onto 'T' shirts, mugs, mouse mats etc and what rp you are getting for these, do you have good supplies and recommendations etc., etc.

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Well, Darryle,

      I posted a thread not to long ago along the same lines. I got some interesting feedback from Sublination and several contributors from the forum. In house production is well worth the effort. According to Photostop, some members are making up to 35% of their turnover from them (and thats out-working). when you consider a mouse mat could cost as little as £1.40 to produce, it looks like a nice replacement for film. have a look at this :-www.subli-nation.com/store/index.php ;D

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We offer photo mugs, mouse pads, puzzles and t-shirts. Our experience has been that it's a great side business, but somewhat seasonal. Christmas is great as well as some of the other holidays: Valentines Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. The rest of the year is hit and miss. We've benefitted from the fact that the "stand alone" shops that offered this service are all gone. We're it. We're the mug guys for our town.

This kind of fits in with my general take on this whole business. You can't just concentrate on one thing to make you money. You have to have many profit centers. All the shops that were "one service" are gone. In our town, we had many 1 hour labs, now there's just us and one other lab. There were two big 1 hour studios (one a national chain), now there's only us. There used to be a photo mug kiosk in both the malls, they're both gone. Again, we're the only one left.

It costs less than $2,000 to get started in this business, so I think it's a good addition to any lab. Just don't expect it to completely replace all your lost D&P revenue.

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We started in photo gifts about 15 years ago, - and it has become the most profitable area we work in, - and best of all, - there is low capital expenditure, - which doesn't become obsolete or require expensive service contracts !

What started our as PHOTO related items, - has become general PERSONALISED items, - with simple text / graphics / logos as common as pictures.

The busieness was slow to start (15 years ago) but now is superb, - and stag / hen nights can add a lot of £100 and £200 sales which make a big difference these days.

The margins are fantastic, - said mousemat cost £1.40 sell £9.99 might sound good, - but what about printing onto a clients t-shirt .....charge say £7 for 40p outlay.

Personally, I prefere printing t-shirts to photos these days.

For us, - it is mostly about t-shirts - and you must work out how to print on dark garments too .....

second comes mugs, - but a very poor second,

next is mouse mats,

then badges (nice little earner)

then the other odd photo gifts, candles, plates, bags, purses, brollies etc.

finally comes hats.

Yes - we do most / all the offerings, - but my advise would be to start with t-shirts / garments in white and NOT WHITE, and add mugs if you feel lucky ...

Choice of printer is perhaps the most critical .....

Dye sub is cheapest in, - but most limiting and costly per item,

if you go for the toner transfere method: The magic Touch / Forever Promotions then XEROX copiers are the most versatile or forgiving.

There are some desktop options too, - but limited to A4 size. - low cap cost but high running costs

Magic Touch have a deal on Xerox DC12 - free - min spend £160 per month at 16p sheet inc toner - which is pretty good - no minimum term ! - the dc12 will handle upto 300 gram gloss card - so you can sell business cards and greeting cards too with this.

Hope this helps


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Hi Phil,

thanks for the info,

can I ask where you source your consumables?

We are currently on the verge of buying an Epson R1800 but it's all a bit of a mine field with a lot of conflicting info, if anyone has experience with this particular printer it would be great to hear your comments.

Many thanks


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  • 2 weeks later...

We have used both MT and Forever, - and both are good products.

We are currently happy with Magic Touch simply because they can offer far more back-up and support. Their portfolio of products and materials is far broader, and tec support is there when you need it.

There are v v slight meterial differences, - but both are good.


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Thanks, Nick & Phil,

Still investigating the possibilities, we have a Jarin heat press & mug press, my dilema is Laser or Dye sublimation with CIS system. Is one more reliable than the other?

Magic touch advise laser,cheaper to run per copy, am I limited to buying thier products as the Magic Touch laser printer is enhanced? Also what about part prices when things go wrong?

Many peopple suggest Dye. There are obviously pros and cons for each method but  does anyone know how each process differs in appearance when applied to t shirts?

Please help because I feel like i'm sinking into the swamp of suppliers differences, please, please! :'( :-/

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here are my observations & thoughts........

Die sub is cheaper entry point - if you have already got presses, - then you can get a printer for £200 and off you go


running costs are higher, and there can be big issues over clogged jets. from what i gather - you really must do at least 1 a day, - or expect big trouble, but - 1 a day in not a lot !

Printing t-shirts - with die sub the results are superb and very washable BUT - you must use poliester coated garments - which only come from a couple of suppliers and are a lot more expensive than bog standard stock, AND - clients cannot bring in their own tops - which is very popular and saves you the shit of having to carry every style in every size !

Die sub mugs are better than laser - but again - more expensive to make.

Laser provides more output options - like ability to print onto dark garments.

I know people who have sourced the MT recommended printer on the open market and have had no issues.

Maybe the first option is go die sub, - and when you know you have a market - do it laser.

Me ? - I do it laser, - and won't bother going die sub .... ever UNLESS some neat new process comes along only available that way.

You pays your money .....


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