For the past six years, 24 Hour Tees® (an almost 10-year-old Nebraska business) has operated out of two separate buildings in Kearney, Nebraska. These two building locations included a retail storefront, where they take customer orders in person, and a larger manufacturing building, which houses their larger print equipment and bulk print inventory.
Last month, 24 Hour Tees® locked the doors to its retail location and started focusing on becoming a more digital ‘custom apparel & accessory printing' business. No longer having a retail store in the city where the company started its business has led to mixed opinions from local customers.
“Closing our retail store has been a bit gut-wrenching for us because the last thing we want to do is let our local customers down,” said Chais Meyer, 24 Hour Tees® owner. He continued, “but it's the best thing for our business right now. We believe that when our great local customers learn more about our reasoning behind locking our retail store doors, they will most likely understand & respect our decision.”
For 24 Hour Tees®, having two buildings was necessary six years ago when they purchased the equipment from a prominent local screen printer going out of business. Immediately after the new manufacturing building was up and running, the 24 Hour Tees® team became divided between two locations that served two very different roles.
“Our team is fantastic, said Shawna Meyer, 24 Hour Tees® owner; we have incredible humans working for 24 Hour Tees®, and throughout the years, they've truly invested in this business, helping to turn it into what it's become!” She continued, “Sometimes, in business, we need to do what's best for the team, no matter how uncomfortable making the change can be in the beginning.”
The most significant problem of having two separate buildings has been the team's division and how this division started to hurt team morale.
“Our leadership team is made up of five individuals that have been with 24 Hour Tees® for six years or longer. Even though our newer employees have been great to work with, those who work out of our retail space typically quit within one year because they're working by themselves more frequently. As our company has transitioned to larger orders more regularly, we've needed most of our local team to work in the print building, printing and managing those larger orders daily,” said Chais.
Closing the retail store and being forced to focus on becoming a digital brand, which allows 24 Hour Tees® to work with large and small customers, locally and throughout the Nation, has been something their team has been thinking about doing for a while. Most of their larger orders come in from their online designer, text message, phone call, email, chat, or online quote form, so their retail store staff would spend most of their day waiting for people to enter the store.
As soon as their latest employee, the core staff member running the retail store for the last year gave his two weeks' notice, the leadership team decided there was no better time to become a digital business.
“Honestly, we are so tired of hiring and training good people, to ultimately have them leave our business because they feel isolated in our retail store building, which only needs to house one teammate. Combining the 24 Hour Tees® team energy in one building has been incredible! Our team makes fewer trips back and forth between buildings, they get questions answered quicker from other teammates, and the overall team morale is at an all-time high,” explained Chais.
Growing into an entirely digital apparel printing company has challenges, but 24 Hour Tees® is focusing on what its customers want and need! They've made an easy order process, provided excellent customer communication, and have accommodated customers needing product samples, local pickups, and shipping any sized orders throughout the Nation.
As the economic climate for small businesses continues to evolve, so will the companies trying to thrive within it. Thank you for supporting all the small businesses you support daily throughout the Nation; every time you buy something, each dollar you spend is a vote towards the future you want to see for our businesses, big or small.