Make Your Own Dang Shirt (or get it Forwarded)

LAP_champion_sweatshirt_IMG_3141

We get asked on an almost-daily basis why we don’t ship things overseas. The answer is: We do. We ship our books to our international vendors so they can sell them to customers with a reasonable shipping cost.

But what about T-shirts, bandanas, chore coats and the like? That’s where it gets complicated.

Shipping directly to Europe is a tax nightmare for us (thank you, EU). And on advice of our attorney and accountant, we have decided to sell only through our international vendors so that we don’t end up doing a lot of paperwork.

Shipping to Canada, Australia and other countries is a different kind of problem. It’s insanely expensive. Even with a fully automated, high-tech warehouse with accounts with all the international carriers, we can’t get shipping rates that are even close to reasonable. The cost of shipping a book is usually more than the retail price of the book or bandana or sweatshirt.

We have tried many schemes (too many to list here) to sell shirts and the like outside of the U.S., but they all failed or were too complicated to maintain.

Lost Art Press might look like a big company at times, but are only two guys who run the thing. There are physical limits to what we can do – and publishing books will always be at the top of the list.

I offer a couple solutions for those outside the U.S. who want some of our specialty products:

  1. Use a parcel forwarding service. Many LAP customers have had great success with these services. Here is a list of five recommended by Huffington Post. I wish we could get rates as reasonable as they get. It must be magic.
  2. Print your own shirts and sweatshirts. You can download our logo file here. There are thousands of services all over the world that will let you print your own shirt, jacket or (shudder) thong with the logo.

I wish at times we were a big company that could have a person dedicated to shipping. And that we shipped a million parcels a year so we could qualify for the dirt-cheap rates. And that I had to attend marketing meetings three times a week to get harangued to sell more of the things that suck. And then I had to meet with the executive types above me to explain why we needed a $500 digital camera to continue making books. And that I had to fill out performance reviews and attend classes on how to harass your employees legally. And then I wake up from the bad dream.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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32 Responses to Make Your Own Dang Shirt (or get it Forwarded)

  1. Dave says:

    Chris,
    You bloody legend mate – it’s an aussie term of endearment trust me.
    Print your own shirt is golden, I’ve often eyed the Lost Art Press merchandise and then shuddered at the shipping to Western Australia. Thanks for the logo you guys are awesome.
    Dave.

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  2. holtdoa says:

    Have you investigated forming a co-op with other small sellers? It might be possible to get that ‘million parcels a year” rate…

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    • Kaja says:

      If LAP is going to start a co-op, I want in. I and quite a few people I know could benefit from being part of such a network.

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      • I think that’s unlikely. We barely have time to scratch our butts, much less start another organization…..

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        • Bryce says:

          It is good that you use your time wisely.

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        • Simon says:

          It’s so important to,have a good scratch now and then, shame the corporate idiots who came up with 360 reviews didn’t appreciate that! I share your sentiments.

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        • Kaja says:

          I know what that’s like. A lot of small businesses are not interested in expanding, simply because they can’t keep up with the workload as it is. Then again, I’d rather be too busy than not busy enough.

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          • It’s not that we don’t want to expand. It’s more that we don’t want our business to become shipping. We would much rather pay for that expertise and spend our energy on growing LAP and Crucible.

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  3. boclocks says:

    Thanks for the link to your logo, but I can’t get it to fit on my thing. Any suggestions?

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  4. fitz says:

    Marketing meetings, performance reviews etc…shudder.

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  5. Greg M. says:

    Marketing meetings, Orwellian employee policies and drinking corporate KoolAid….Anarchism is much better.

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  6. Quercus Robur says:

    In the place where I live there’s a fierce competition between parcel forwarding services, which translates into reasonable rates when you factor in the tracking, insurance and other services.

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  7. Anyone with success getting this logo to stick to a copper flask?

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  8. Klaus N. Skrudland says:

    I have ordered both merchandise and books from LAP to Norway, including John Brown’s Welsh Stick Chairs, using the mail forwarding service MyUS.com. I can definitely recommend them.

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  9. MarkYourWaste says:

    Chris: How about putting all the t-shirt design logos (the beehive and the mexican etc) on your shop as downloadable files for sale for, I don’t know, the sort of price your daughter sells her stickers maybe.

    I’d love to print my own stuff, but I’d rather pay you at least SOMETHING for using your IP. I’d also love to have ALL the designs 😀

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    • Hey Mark,

      Thanks for the sentiment. I feel bad selling marketing materials such as T-shirts, but the shirts do cost us.

      If I have a few spare hours during the holidays I’ll try to round up as many of the designs as I can for download. Good idea, sir.

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  10. Steve C says:

    So I’m waiting on the Hillbilly T-shirt version to come out. No neck….sleeveless……

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  11. Here’s a great episode of Planet Money that can shed light on this dilemma.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/01/634737852/episode-857-the-postal-illuminati

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  12. Richard Motz says:

    Glad Not To Have Your Problems ! U Do A Great Job !

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  13. That’s completely reasonable and understandable . Postage across the pacific is as ugly as a dropped pie.

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  14. andy says:

    I get, and share your frustration. I live in Canada. In situations where I want to buy something from Rockler, Woodcraft, or Amazon US, I get charged for shipping, duty, and customs brokerage. My rule of thumb is to take the catalogue price of the item and triple it. You are not the problem.

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  15. fedster9 says:

    As a curiosity, how is the EU making it a tax nightmare shipping to Europe? European customers would have to deal with customs themselves, and deal with whatever duties and taxes that are applicable — been there, done that. This burden is on *them* not on LAP. I can see the IRS might make it painful to sell abroad (and so would all the various rules and laws about interstate commerce within the US), but I am failing to see how shipping to Europe is made more difficult by the EU.

    Please note I am not trying to convince you to ship to Europe, I am trying to understand the statement you made.

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      • fedster9 says:

        Interesting, yet I am still confused/surprised (and note, I am just expressing said confusion/surprise with no expectation the LAP gives any further comment. I recognise that LAP might just not want to sell directly to non US based customers irrespective of any taxation or legislative duties). LAP has at least 3 different EU based businesses selling its books, so whatever paperwork needed to be done was done. In the matter of direct to consumer sales, I lived in the UK for 16 years (until 2015, 2 years at least since the supposed UK established obligation for US businesses to register for VAT) and, whenever I had stuff shipped from the US, the only time when VAT was mentioned was when I had to pay it myself. No invoice ever mentioned a VAT registration for the business selling me stuff — nobody ever tried to collect EU VAT fro me at the moment of sale (though I did ask for US sale taxes to be removed since the goods were sold abroad). Endpoint consumers would not be able to claim VAT refund anyway, even if they are registered as businesses — if you buy a book for yourself you act a consumer and not a business.

        In any case, my main comment is, if you feel like complaining about the EU, the only cause of said complaints are that the EU is not imposing on its member states one single import/VAT on imports policy. In fact every EU country is just imposing on LAP its own set of rules and regulations in a non uniform manner. I recognise this is a burden you want to avoid, and that’s it. But the comment about the EU is basically fake news (to use this novel US generated expression) — you have the individual states to blame, not the EU.

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        • Um, you are going to have to talk to our accountant for more details. There is a difference in selling to wholesalers and end customers. And the paperwork we faced to sell to individuals was prodigious.

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          • fedster9 says:

            I accept LAP can sell its books to whomever it likes under whatever conditions it chooses to accept, and that it can change at any point its sales policy with no obligation to provide a justification for said change. My own experience buying and importing good from the US is immaterial to LAP’s choices and experience of trading with EU states.

            My issue is that your statement about the EU is factually incorrect: the paperwork/hassle is caused by each European state, not by the EU because your trade with EU customers is affected by each country’s independent decisions on VAT and customs paperwork. Even for EU-wide rules on international commerce the problem is still caused by how these are implemented by each country independently, with different paperwork burdens in all member countries. I accept this is a hassle. Yet it is factually incorrect to blame it on the EU and each and every of its member states.

            If you feel I am an annoying pedant (you’d be right!) it is because I feel that the current trend of misrepresenting the actual work and effects of national/federal/supranational entities makes our democracies weaker, and I do not let anything pass (it is not personal).

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