Niche Markets in the Digital Age


Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Niche markets are one of the 2 Regular Guys favorite subjects, and this week we are going to target specifically digital decorators. Maybe you have that shiny new toy and it is just sitting. Let’s get that tool to work making money. We will share many of the experiences and niches along with the how and why to get your creative juices flowing.

Sponsored by: SGIA.orgThreadX – Palm Springs, CA February 25-28, 2018

ThreadX18Our regular listeners know this, but 2 Regular Guys are all about garment decorating, a bit of fun, and no rants or lectures or selling. We are not doing this for our employers, but rather for our industry. Since February 2013, The 2 Regular Guys have been the first and the most listened to garment decorating industry podcast on this planet! We are humbled by all of you tuning in each week. We work hard to bring you information that will make your business better, and our industry better. Take a look at our incredible weekly guest list and you’ll understand where this industry goes for news, interviews and the heartbeat of garment decorating. Thanks for listening!

Shout Outs

  • Tamir and Maxie Garb of  ‎T Max Tshirts in Israel
  • Steve Ratliff from Ink Slide in Bakersfield, California

Niche Markets in the Digital Age

We’ve talked many times on the show about niche markets, but today we want to be more specific and discuss markets for digital decorators.

Terry: What DTG is capable of producing. Short runs, full color images, repeatability. Products best suited to DTG are 100% cotton t-shirts, high cotton content sweats, baseball caps,  jeans, artist canvas.

Adam McCauley16:06 Moving forward with DTG machines will there be a machine that will have the ability to print on poly pieces in the future.

Aaron: What Sublimation is capable of producing… Similar to DTG, but with one less color, but MUCH more durability. Plus NO Hand. Becomes part of the substrate. Needs Polyester and a white base to start. Lots of Garments (Ever hear of Under Armour) but so much more too. Hard Goods, Mugs, Cell Phone Case, Photo Panels, Mouse Pads. Not enough time to list everything.

Adam McCauley18:18 I read that Vapor is or was working on colored apparel that is able to have sublimation applied to it instead of just white apparel. Is that common yet or is that something still being tested.

Aaron: Based on capabilities, who are some potential niche markets?

Martha Taylor21:26 I am at the control panel of a million dollar MRI machine…I think I have the speaker figured out 😉😘

Terry: I’ll start by talking about repeatability. With DTG, you can pull up a file and hit print. Many of the RIP software drivers will archive images with the same settings, etc. you printed before.

Example: With the lawn care guys out my window every Monday I think about that niche market. I think this is the perfect niche to describe repeatability.

I’ve talked about this niche before, but let’s expand it to other areas where you are the provider of work shirts for a broad range of industries. I live in an apt complex with a couple of maintenance staff. A screen printer would never be able to service such a small group effectively, but a DTG owner could. And I live in an area of Scottsdale with complex after complex, each with a small maintenance staff.

What other similar businesses could you service?

  • We have lots of pool service companies here in Phoenix.
  • How about moving services?
  • I saw a team of window washers last week. They weren’t wearing identifying apparel, but they should. Somebody out there should get on that.

Aaron: While repeatability is certainly a capability of Sublimation, I typically see Sublimation really shining in the personalization arena (Flags)

  • / GroopDealz
  • Summer Camp PJ’s
  • Twitter Mugs with Emoji’s

Terry: Short runs…

Example: Just yesterday I spoke with someone in the niche market of bars and taverns. We talked about her contracting to screen printers but said she never have orders over 48 pieces. Her plan is to bring production in house with DTG. The primary end user of her products are bartenders and wait staff. Plus some of her customers are what she describes as destination bars where customers also want to take a shirt home.

And let me add why this person is bringing her production in house. Either the press operator was fired or quit, but quality has plummeted and she can’t get reasonable delivery on any order. Sound familiar out there? Every screen printing class I offer has at least one student who struggles with contact printer delivery and quality.

Who else has staff who could use short runs of decorated apparel?

  • There’s a hand wash car wash down the block from me. Looks like about a dozen men and women working there at any given time.
  • Wedding planners may want to offer bridesmaids and groomsmen shirts.

Aaron: Short Runs

  • Automobile Sets (Car Mats, Car Coasters, Seal Belt Cover, USB Charger)
  • Baby Sets (Onesie, Beanie Hat, Blanket – Birthday Photos)

Adam McCauley41:56 Do you find that customers like the traditional screen printing more than the digital printing? I’m thinking in terms of feel

Terry: Full color images… Most screen printers have limited ability to reproduce photographic images. And if they do, the minimums are high.

Example: I’m going to repeat one because I just recently saw this on a Facebook Forum. Someone was asking about printing for rock bands with a DTG printer. The responder said, “No, you should screen print that.” Yes, if you’re on the Van’s Warped Tour. But most bands have a limited budget and can’t come close to the minimums to buy traditional black shirts with a full color picture of the band. And I’ll bet a dozen garages you drove by today is home to an aspiring band.

Who else needs full color images but in short runs?

  • Everyone with a car at the county race track is your potential customer. I know decorators who are set up at the track every weekend.

Aaron: High Color

  • Photographers
  • High End Fashion Designers

Jill Grininger58:49 Blue Cheese. missed you guys

Other Events

Trade Shows

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book


Sublimation just got easier with the launch of, the new US distributor for Best Sublimation. Our mission is to help our partners grow with a different way of doing business compared to all the “Me too” distributors in the United States. We will do this by:
  • Offering products as a single item instead of forcing cases on you.
  • Changing shipping standards.
  • Offering unique products from limited manufacturing partnerships.

This show is brought to you for a full hour by:

Specialty Graphics Imaging Association – SGIA will continually strive to be the foremost resource for information and education within the specialty imaging industry. SGIA supports the digital and screen printing community in the USA and Canada by providing services and activities specific to their interests. While the majority of SGIA services and activities are specific to US and Canada, SGIA will continue to partner with national and regional associations around the globe to continually develop the international community. The SGIA National Affiliation Program brings together a multinational community to enhance awareness and encourage the exchange of information. Supporting the Leaders of the Digital and Screen Printing Community

Equipment Zone, with 20 years experience selling garment printing equipment nationwide. Equipment Zone offers the new Epson F2000 SureColor direct-to-garment printer, their own VelociJet-XL DTG printer, and the all-new SpeedTreater-TX automatic pretreat machine with a full 16”x24” pretreat area. Equipment Zone also carries a full line of DTG inks and supplies. Go to

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