4 Ways to Repurpose Dead Stock

Learn how to repurpose unused inventory, or "dead stock" with these tips. 

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Almost all print and embroidery shops have a place where the dead stock collects; the blanks that seemed like a good idea, the canceled orders that couldn’t be returned, and the bits and pieces of apparel and accessories that accumulate over years of running a business.

Depending on the type of dead stock, there’s a world of things you can do to use those garments for the good of your business.

Here are four quick ideas for turning that inventory into useful material:

  1. Sampling: As any of you who have read my articles on digitizing will know, I always advocate testing new designs on the same kind of material and stabilizer you’ll be using for a final order. Rejects and dead stock can be cut into sample swatches, ready for testing. In our shop, they are separated by fabric type and color, ready to use for sampling.
  2.  Employee apparel: Depending on the type of garment, you may be able to use such garments to create decorated employee apparel. Sample undecorated garments are a no-brainer; just decorate with your shop’s logo and give away to any willing worker for whom the garment is a good fit. Wearing your logo is a great way to open conversations about what your shop can do. Even in the case of pre-decorated garments, you may be able to either remove existing embroidery, or use patch/appliqué style designs to create logoed apparel to promote your shop.
  3.  Promotional giveaways: With undecorated stock, especially un-sized pieces like hats, bags, and other accessories, it’s easy to create a promotional giveaway piece. This takes the form of a self-promotional piece decorated with your own logo; in this case usually used as a loyalty reward packed into an existing customer’s order. It can also be a prospective giveaway, decorated with the logo of either an existing customer or a customer with whom you want to open up relations. For an existing customer, it may be a way to invite them to try a new kind of decorated accessory. A customer that almost always orders apparel might be given a bag as an incentive to order bags, for example. For a prospective customer, it’s an item you can drop off or ship out as a persuasion to use your shop’s services.
  4. Technique showcases: If you have a showroom or share your work on social media (or both) you can use dead stock, particularly undecorated dead stock, to create sample pieces showing either new techniques or techniques you want to highlight. Even with decorated apparel, you can use placements that aren’t involved with the previous decoration and still manage to make a display with the piece. Trying to sell rhinestones? Make a rhinestone shirt with your own design, snap and share pics, and set up a display in your space; make up a sample pricing guide, and go for it.

Mike Clark

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