Spring 2018
Gifts Get Personal By Joanna Clark

Retailers, vendors tap into the customization craze

“I can’t tonight. I have plans with my cat.”

If you have a cat (and a particularly witty mother), you’ve undoubtedly received this quote printed in some shape or form for your birthday. Perhaps on a T-shirt, maybe on a mug. Or maybe – best yet – laser engraved on a rose gold mantra band.

The Pillow Bar’s personalized pj set.

In today’s gift market, personalization reigns supreme. And with recent advances in technology, the possibilities are endless.

“Small businesses can now personalize much more in the way of materials,” said Holly Congdon, Everything Embroidered Market (EEM) vendor coordinator. “With sublimation and vinyl application, you now have a huge window of opportunity for coffee mugs, dining ware, signs, jewelry and more. This has sent the industry on an uphill climb with more popularity than ever before.”

In short, the monogrammed backpack — a middle school must-have — was just the beginning.

The P. Graham Dunn Personalized Laser Engraving system is an easy way for retailers to create customized gifts on the spot.

But today’s shops don’t need an L.L. Bean budget to tap into the trend. Take for example the Personalized Laser Engraving system created by P. Graham Dunn. Designed as a turnkey solution for retailers, the system comes with the equipment, software and training needed to engrave over 300 kinds of products on the spot.

The Pillow Bar presents a luxurious white satin pillow case and includes personalization.

“The PGD Program has to be one of the easiest in the personalization industry,” said Danny Purvis, operations manager and buyer for Unique Expressions in Aiken, South Carolina. “The customer picks the piece they want personalized, we type in the information, the customer double checks the piece, we place it in the laser machine and press start. It’s literally that easy. As a retailer, there’s not a better margin maker in the marketplace.”

The most popular personalized pieces at Unique Expressions? Slate cheese boards, cork coasters, picture frames and custom farmhouse pieces.

Laser-engraved cheese board by P. Graham Dunn.

“We see the farmhouse look to still be strong. We do a great deal of ‘new home’ and ‘just married’ pieces,” said Purvis.

Retailers looking to tap into this “margin maker” can find personalization systems at shows like EEM, a trade show for embroidery, appliqué and vinyl application vendors. The show, held twice annually, showcases the latest and greatest in customization, and gives retailers and vendors the chance to connect face-to-face.

“There’s so much opportunity for people to start a business in this industry,” said Congdon. “And with so many options available in the way of affordable equipment, I see the industry continuing to be on the rise for many years to come.”

PSA Essentials designs and manufactures personalized address stamps and custom embossers.

And rise it will. Because with all the engagement and baby announcements flooding your social channels, one thing is certain — they’re going to register for something. And, odds are, that something will be monogrammed.

Click here for free information on any of these products.

Joanna Clark

Joanna Clark is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Her career began in the advertising world, where she wrote ads for a variety of brands, most notably Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam. Her work has been published in trade articles, on billboards and inadvertently online as an internet meme. To view more of her writing, visit joannaclarkcreative.com.

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