Local VS Big Box Screen Printing Shop: The Definitive Guide – AMS Manufacturing & Printing

Local VS Big Box Screen Printing Shop: The Definitive Guide

Local screen printer

Choosing the wrong screen printing shop can be the start and end of your business. Ok that’s a bit dramatic but not entirely false! 

However, picking the right shop for you is an important decision. There are a lot of factors you will look into before making your final decision. 

What I think a lot of people forget or don’t even realize, is there are a lot of local businesses around you that will appreciate not only your order, but you’ll feel great helping out a fellow neighbor with their business. 

While some people love to work with larger businesses and think it's considered more “safe”, we are going to discuss if you should choose a big box store or to keep it more local. 

Hopefully this will help make your decision a tad easier. 

Supporting Local: 

We always encourage people to look around at the local businesses in your hometown. Is there one that can accomplish what you’re looking for? 

There are quite a few reasons why shopping locally is the best option for you and your neighbors. 

1). Shipping 

Shipping is the biggest pro to picking a local screen printing shop to do business with. Or lack of shipping is more accurate. 

When you pick a shop that is local, you most likely won’t have to pay the outrageous shipping prices big box stores will charge you. These prices can be as high as a couple hundred dollars to ship. 

No one wants to pay that. 

Not only do shipping prices stink, everyone loves getting the email or phone call stating their order is ready. However, no one likes seeing “you'll receive it in 3-5 business days”. That doesn’t even cover if the package is delayed or if your order gets lost in the mail. 

Picking a local shop for your order means when you get “your orders ready email!”, you’ll be able to drive down to the shop and pick it up the same day! No waiting and no risk of losing it.

2). Customer Service 

“You have 10 people in front of you. Please hold”. No one, and I do mean no one, likes to sit and wait on hold. It's annoying and takes too much time out of your day. 

When it comes to big box stores, we found that great customer service is one thing that almost all of them lack. None of the customer service representatives actually seemed to care to help out. The conversation, that customers wait on hold for, typically ends in 2 minutes and almost never has a clear conclusion. 

When you call your local screen printing shop, you not only will most likely not have to wait in line to speak to someone. 

Local shops are more likely to take the time to help you find a solution that works for you. With most local shops, the people answering the phones are people who genuinely care about the work they do, as well as their customers. 

Next time you’re waiting on hold to get a simple answer, just remember that local shops may be able to answer your questions much sooner. 

3) Quantity of your order 

Many businesses don’t always need the same number of clothing every single time they order. Some days you may need hundreds, other days you may only need 50 or even just 10. 

If you find the quantity of orders varying, local and smaller shops are probably the better option for you. 

Many big box screen printing shops have minimums on the number of items ordered. Most times those minimums are not even close to little. We are talking 100+ that need to be ordered in order for them to even do business with you. 

Now, I’m not saying local shops won’t have minimums. They will just be much lower and typically more flexible with said minimums. Most shops will even try to work with you if you need an order of 10 or less. 

4) The Monthly Fees 

Monthly fees do not seem like that big of a deal right? 

But when the year ends, you start to realize those monthly fees can quickly add up.

When it comes to big box stores, many will charge a monthly fee to use their services. While they will all have a “free” version, you rarely get any services that will actually help you. 

You will have to spend at least $25 to get the services that will actually help you in the long run. These services can include help with artwork, discounts and more. That’s the lowest tier as well. If you really want their discounts and expertise, you pay even more. 

However, local businesses rarely charge the monthly fees that big box screen printing stores will. Many local shops love helping when it comes to your artwork or designs. 

5) Timeline 

Imagine you need an order ASAP. You didn’t realize you needed to get the order in by a certain deadline. Now you’re running around trying to find someone to fulfill this order before your event. 

If you reach out to a big company, they are going to tell you “sorry no. We need at least X amount of days to complete this order”. 

No need to freak out yet. Reach out to that local screen printing shop in your neighborhood. I guarantee they will be able to help. 

Many local businesses love to help fellow neighbors out. Your local screen printing shop is no different. They will work with you day and night to ensure your order is ready to go by the date you need it. 

6) Accuracy 

We researched a lot of big screen printing shops. 

Spent days reading reviews and talking to fellow screen printers and artists. One of the biggest issues they faced with their products, accuracy. 

Their tee shirts would come back crooked. Their hoodies would come back discolored. Their promotional products, such as hats and mugs, would look cheap. 

However, with local shops the biggest compliment we heard was how great the quality of the products were. Local screen printing shops take the time and effort to not only make sure it's printed on correctly, but that the item it is printed on is the best of the best.


Alright now I can understand how this post can make it seem like big box stores are basically useless, however, that’s not the case for all! 

If you…. 

- have a big order 

-a lot of time to spare 

-don’t really mind to have the personable experience 

Then the typical screen printing company will work just best for you! 


Overall, we always recommend trying your local screen printing shops. 

Typically there is nothing they can’t offer that the big box stores do. It will be helping not only them, but your city’s economy.. In this day and age, shopping locally is becoming more and more popular and we couldn’t be more happy about that! 

Think about it... 

If you knew you could make a difference, in not only your town, but in a fellow neighbor's life, wouldn’t you at least want to try? Give us a call or contact us today! 

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