History on a Shirt
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History on a Shirt offers t-shirts to promote your museum, designed just for your gift shop. History on a Shirt started with one artist's vision to help museums get their message out - attached to enthusiastic supporters - who pay the museum for the privilege of advertising the museum! Read on for details, look at existing t-shirt designs, or go ahead and order online.
Two of my designs sold literally out of the box; with another design, a customer tried to buy the shirt off my back. Across the country, many of my clients find these designs sell t-shirts very well, overcoming problems common to many museums:
- Sell more shirts A small museum that usually sells 15-20 shirts a week across 8 different designs, sold 11 of my design the first day the shirts were out on the racks.
- Call back in spring One museum wasn't ready to order yet in January 2014. But after seeing a sample design for their February event, they ordered 100 in February. When they reordered in July, they ordered a second color. In October they reordered the first two colors and added a third.
- Late summer sales A museum that ordered 120 shirts in July 2014 reordered 80 more in October, saying they only had 6 left.
- Tiny museum One small museum ordered 12 shirts in October 2014, saying they couldn't sell more in a year. In June 2015 they did a reorder for 24 shirts, plus 12 totes!
- Off-season sales One museum's initial order in December 2014 was 100 shirts. After a small reorder in April 2015, they reordered 100 in June. Also in April 2015 they ordered 110 of another design with a 100-shirt reorder in June; pretty good for a Colorado outdoor museum in winter!
- Uncooperative board Another museum's board wouldn't approve funds for any good shirts, but showing the design to the director resulted in an order placed two days before the next board meeting!
- Moving inventory A museum ordered 18 each of a 5-shirt series. Two days after receiving the first shipment, they reordered 33 of the first shirt of the series. Two weeks later, they reordered 32 of the fifth shirt.
- Drawing attention Wearing a t-shirt for a Texas railroad museum to a nature event in Colorado resulted in "Where is that museum?" inquiries.
See the designs.
I am developing designs for quite a number of museums; clients who have already placed an order include:
- Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
- American Museum of Science and Energy - Oak Ridge
- Barksdale Global Power Museum
- Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
- Buffalo Soldiers Museum
- Colorado Railroad Museum
- Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame
- Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum
- Crockett County Museum
- Dayton Carillon Historical Park
- Flint Hills Discovery Center
- Florida Railroad Museum
- Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
- Forney Museum of Transportation
- Fort Meigs Museum
- Fort Menendez at Old Florida Museum
- Fort Vasquez Museum
- Frontiers of Flight Museum
- Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
- Iwo Jima Memorial Museum
- LeMay Family Collection Foundation
- Mount St. Helens Creation Center
- Museum of the Mountain Man
- National WWI Museum
- Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
- Pony Express National Museum
- Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum
- Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
- Rosenberg Railroad Museum
- Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum
- Spirit of Flight Center
- Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
- Telluride Historical Museum
- United States Army Aviation Museum
- U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum
- USS Lexington Museum
- Vintage Aero Flying Museum
- West Point Museum (Daughters of the U.S. Army, West Point, Gift Shop)
- Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum
- Western Pacific Railroad Museum
See the designs.
We usually use 6-ounce Gildan shirts, having found that brand to be good quality, but can work with other brands too. You can get some idea of available colors (including the Pantone color) on Gildan's color swatch page, but be aware that not all colors are always available: some of them are for other items than t-shirts. Take a look, get back to us with your favorites, and we can give you a designer's advice about what colors might work best to get your message across. Or go ahead and order online.
T-shirts don't work for your shop? We have handled other products for customers, too. Just ask about tote bags, polos, jewelry, and other options.
Downloadable price list (PDF)
Shipping is additional except in occasional cases of personal delivery. Time from ordering until shirts are shipped can be up to two weeks; please make sure we know your time frame if you have an event coming up.
More price information:
Shirt prices include quality shirts and the artist's time working with you, plus the non-measurable benefits of attaching a design advertising your museum to someone excited about your museum. So when you buy the t-shirts, the design time, quality shirts, and advertising come with no additional cost. Most museums ask for a design so specific to their collection it is really custom artwork for that museum, although the artist still owns the design. However, if the design works for other museums also, you may get a quantity price break by ordering together with them.
Custom designs can be done the same day but usually take a few days. During busy times, a $100 deposit will guarantee you a spot in line, but the deposit is deducted from your order invoice, so it still doesn't cost you in the end. Need exclusive rights to the design, or the design on a tote, polo, or cap? Just call or email us to discuss.
Minimum order is 24 shirts, but if it is a first-time order of less than 70 shirts, the basic shirt price increases by $1/shirt because the artist relies on re-orders; there isn't time to draw that many new designs for small orders.
Ready to order? You can order online.
The following design issues can keep t-shirts from selling, leaving you with dead inventory. We will try to help you avoid these problems.
- T-shirt with just a logo (looks like it should be a staff shirt)
- Overly complex design (hard to see without invading personal space)
- Design on a white shirt (white, or light color, seems like an undershirt)
- Design is a photo (photos are usually too detailed for a shirt)
- Design is generic (no urgency to buy; customer can get it elsewhere)
- Full-color design (costs more to produce for what is often a low-quality design)
- Doesn't tell a story (everyone likes a story, only enthusiasts like that particular vehicle)
Homeschoolers can be an enthusiastic target market for museums, but only if you can find them and present your museum in a way they understand. Here are some tips based on our experience being, and talking to, homeschoolers.
Homeschoolers can be hard to reach. Most homeschools are quite interested in history, museums, and field trips, but by the nature of what they are doing homeschoolers may be tied only loosely (if at all) into any informational network. Word-of-mouth may be as good as it gets for reaching some homeschoolers! However, if you put the word out there, you may be surprised where homeschoolers will come from to attend your event.
Homeschool groups plan ahead. We have had some success through sending flyers about our homeschool history events to Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) for them to distribute to their email list of homeschool groups. (In fact, the first time we did this, in connection with the Vintage Aero Flying Museum, we quickly exceeded the capacity of the small museum, and had to schedule a second day!) We found that though many individual homeschool families will decide on the spur of the moment to have a field trip, group leaders plan weeks ahead, and two months is not too far ahead to notify them. Another consideration with groups is that they tend to come and go, so although it is worth collecting a mailing list, it could get out of date quickly. Asking for RSVPs is a way to get a guess, though hardly a trustworthy number, for who is coming. To encourage RSVPs, point out limited space or free study guides.
Homeschool demographics keep changing. Recognize that homeschooling is growing, and it is not always who you think. Yes, many are Christian and many have lots of children. But recently the movement has grown to include families who are concerned about safety or quality of education, and who may be secular, single-kid, double-careerist, tattooed, or all the above! Since many parents who feel adequate at teaching the alphabet or basic arithmetic, get nervous about teaching higher levels of math, there are probably more younger homeschoolers out there than highschool homeschoolers. However, the highschoolers may be all the more interested in events where they can meet others like themselves!
Tell everybody. Ways to get the word out include: notices on the museum signage, brochures, and website; emails/mail to your regular mailing list announcing a homeschool event (you have no idea who it will get forwarded to!); emails/mail to any homeschooler lists you have from previous events (with a reminder to forward to anyone else they know); ads in homeschool magazines; flyers to homeschool organizations; advertising at homeschool conferences; and tables at homeschool conference vendor areas.
Be exciting. Be creative, and take advantage of the unique schedule of homeschools. Since those movies came out, a night at the museum always sounds interesting. But why stop there? We considered, despite not having money or time for it, attending an event at an aviation museum a state away just because it involved getting to sleep inside an aircraft! Many homeschoolers started homeschooling in order to make their education schedule fit real life; i.e. historic events don't happen only on school days between 9 and 3! If there is a time or date relevant to your museum that falls outside regular hours or tourist season, see how many homeschoolers you can get interested!
For sale through Great War Stories Gift Shop
Contact History on a Shirt
Phone: (303) 795-5369
Physical mailing address:
History on a Shirt
P.O. Box 524
Littleton, CO 80160-0524
Illustration and other specialties
History on a Shirt is only one aspect of Albion Design Centre. More aviation designs are shown at Aeroenthusiast.com. An earlier style of t-shirt design is shown at the CafePress shop cafepress.com/aeroenthusiast. Other links for Albion Design Centre, including illustration, typography, logos, graphic design and web design: Albion Design Centre Home About Albion Design Centre Boxed Tees Ewan Tallentire Portfolio Contact Albion Design Centre