Selling Pidgin tshirts

Mark Doliner mark at
Sun Feb 1 02:58:15 EST 2009

Hey, so I've been meaning to look into various merchandise at various
online shops for a while and send out a nicely organized email.  Sorry
for procrastinating for like 2 years.

The three web sites I've played with are,,  They offer similar
services and similar prices.  There's a lot of info here, skip to the
bottom for my recommendation.

* Can design various products like t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats,
mousepads, mugs, etc
* Can create a "store" that lives on their website.  You create
products that people can buy and they show up in your store.
* You get a commission when someone buys a product.

I've gotten stuff printed from them before and been mostly happy.  We
can optionally allow buyers to edit their product before they buy it,
they could change the size of the logo, move stuff around, change the
shirt type (t shirt, mens, womens, tank top, etc.).  I think they
always ship from the US, which means non-US citizens might have to
duty when the product is shipped to them.  They have a minimum
commission of 10% (which is added on to the price the end user pays
for the shirt).  On top of that, if we refer people from our site
(likely) we get an additional 15% (which is NOT added on to the price
the end user pays for the shirt).  And we would get a larger
commission if we sell over $100 in a month.  Zazzle can pay us by
PayPal or by check.  You can see an example of a store at Zazzle here:

This is where I got the shirts me Richard and Gary and I for the
Summer of Code mentor summit in 2007.  I've been pretty happy with
mine.  Richard and Gary, have your shirts held up ok?  Their shirts
are generally a little bit more expensive.  Their web site is a little
less in-your-face than  I think they can ship from the US
or from somewhere in the EU, whichever is closer.  Their commissions
are totally configurable.  And I think they also have an affiliate
program where we would get an additional 20% if we refer people from
our site (likely).  Spreadshirt can pay us by PayPal or by direct

I have the least experience with CafePress.  Their prices look pretty
good, maybe better than Zazzle and Spreadshirt.  The commission is
totally configurable, and they also have a commission program where
you get an additional 15% for anyone you refer.  They can pay us by

It's kind of a pain to do the math, but if you make the same design on
the same type of shirt at all three places, and set it up to give us
the same commission, I think CafePress comes out about $2 cheaper than
Zazzle, and Zazzle is maybe $4 cheaper than Spreadshirt.  And people
would probably be paying between $23 and $30 for a shirt, including
shipping, depending on the type of shirt and depending on the design
we come up with.

All three web sites are pretty good and it's hard to give them a good
comparison.  But this isn't a decision that's going to cause us great
pain--if we chose one and don't like it then we can switch to another.
 The switching cost is pretty low.  I feel like we could debate about
the best way to do this forever, but I'd rather just get something up,
and I feel like this would be super low maintenance.  How about I set
up a shop on our behalf at CafePress and Zazzle (the cheaper two) and
send out the links and we can see how people feel?

If shipping to non-US countries really is a pain point then we can try
Spreadshirt or look into other options.

One thing we'll want to do is get a bigger version of the pigeon logo.
 I made an svg of the "Pidgin" text a while ago that looks pretty
good, but the bird is a lot more difficult.  I can also send an email
to the devel mailing list and solicit design ideas.


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