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I've run the one with the deer on it for over a year without incident. It looks pretty rough though. But, you're correct in that one desiring to commit vandalism will find it an easy mark.
The deer is definitely MY favorite.....didn't pick Huntingky nickname for nothing...ha ha
 

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I own a marketing agency and successfully helped bring a client’s product to market under NCAA licensing, and I can tell you that process is no joke.

Even disregarding licensing fees, the approval process just to be allowed to approach individual universities for licensing is long and arduous. You’ve got something unique. Which is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Beyond that, it would take serious time and financial investment to make that happen.

Just some food for thought. I think your idea is pretty neat.
 

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It might be better to sell/lease your idea to someone who already has the licensing agreement.
 

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What do I have to do to buy my supplies wholesale?
First thing is create a business name. Some suppliers are going to require minimum purchases and lots of documentation. Many of them though only require a business sounding email address or letter head. I would suggest something somewhat generic that can be used for various purchases. I used to use Bell's Shop, ordered wood working supplies, metal working, gunsmithing etc under that same title. Started in days before internet so I used a word processing app on my stoneage Radio Shack computer to create some letterhead and convinced them I was a thriving business, actually working out of my house. In later years I helped a buddy set up a basic web page. If doing it again, I would simply set up a Facebook page under a business name, same way I have a personal Facebook page and one dedicated to my Mustang build. Then create a gmail account under the same name. Accept inquiries through the Facebook Messenger or gmail.
A name like Rose62's Creations or Rose62's Custom Designs would leave it wide open to what ever you decided to create.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
By the way, Hunt, I'm getting the stuff together for your plate. It will be black with either Green or yellow lettering. The yellow has better contrast. I went to Target, two Tractor Supply stores, an Ace Hardware and Farm Supply store looking for a good deer figurine but as hunting season just started they're all sold out. Had to order, but you should get it shortly.
 

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As a former owner of a very small business selling manufactured items (ham radio kits and assembled products), who ran that business for 13 years before selling it, here's my $.02 worth. I shipped several thousand orders per year, and got my processes honed to the point where the time and effort required were minimal. To be perfectly honest, if I'd been a little more patient (or a little less of a perfectionist), I'd still own the business. I was using a CNC router to make some parts, and it got to be a huge time suck and hassle. I had not stayed on top of 3D printing technology; if I had, it would have been far less hassle and the customers don't seem to care at all about the slightly less perfect quality of the parts (end panels for plastic boxes in which the devices are mounted). The new owner of the business is 3D printing those parts and selling them like hot cakes -- even after raising the prices substantially. So, I'm certainly not the best entrepreneur, or I could have been making probably 50% more money at it.

First: Don't underestimate your costs. Figure out your total, all-in cost to produce, sell, and deliver your items. Include the cost of shipping, painting, licensing, packaging, all of it. Now figure out what it's going to cost to pack and ship one (and multiple quantities). Look for shipping boxes in bulk... buy 100-200 at a time and you can get the cost down. I started with Uline, then switched to a much MUCH less expensive supplier. 95% of the quality at 30% of the cost. Sorry I don't recall the name, but I can dig back and see if I have it if you want. You can start small with small quantities, but the more you buy at once the less it will cost you per unit. That applies to nearly every single piece of this puzzle. Don't go crazy and sink more money than you have into it, but once you know you can sell them -- build up a little inventory. Also have a plane for when someone decides to place a bulk order for a few hundred units to sell in their store, and you need to get them out quickly.

Also check out shipping. I used Endicia, which was less expensive than Stamps.com and I liked the software better. I bought a used, ex-UPS 4x6 thermal label printer on eBay that printed thousands of labels for me before I sold it. Supplies were cheap. Printing shipping labels was cheap, quick, and easy -- and if anything you do is not cheap, quick, and easy you're going to hate life if you do any sort of business. People bad-mouth USPS shipping all the time, but my experience was very, very good. I shipped ALL of my stuff USPS. Mostly First Class parcels, about 20% Priority Mail in flat rate small boxes. Even Firt Class packages generally arrived anywhere in the country within 3-4 days. I also shipped many hundreds of packages all over the world -- Europe, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Africa. Some countries were really unreliable for delivery. I just self-insured -- if a package disappeared, I shipped a replacement. It worked out WAY cheaper than paying for insurance for my low-cost items.

You have more options now for selling than I did. eBay is thievery. Etsy seems to be viable, just be sure to bump your price up 8-10% to account for their fees. Using PayPal is a good way to be able to accept all major credit cards as well as PP for those who use it. I built a web site using Zen Cart, later switched to OpenCart. Running your own web site gives you much more control over how things are done, but unless you're an expert at it, this is probably not the time to learn.

The last puzzle piece will be the marketing and advertising. I did a little bit with banner ads on popular ham radio web sites; they were of marginal value to begin with, then the cost doubled so I stopped. A lot depends on your product's target market and how you plan to sell. My experience there won't translate easily to anything else... but don't think you can just toss up a web site and people will find you. I think that's one of the draws of sites like Etsy. My brother in law is selling cribbage boards in the shape of the Millennium Falcon on Etsy. So far he's paid for his large CNC router, laser engraver, other shop tools, and a few vacations.

As for licensing logos for universities and such... check with a lawyer, but I would think if you buy an officially licensed sticker it's already covered, no? Maybe not. I dunno. Or bundle your un-logo'd product together with a licensed sticker that the buyers can apply themselves. I can't be of much help there, I'm afraid.

Good luck, and have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #35
LOTS of helpful info in that post DaleB. I'll be re-reading that and researching several of you comments/recommendations. Thanks a lot DaleB and others that have commented. This new format may take some getting used to but it's hard to beat the breadth of expertise contained in the membership here.
 

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I run a small specialty coffee business (Expedition Roasters) which does pop culture inspired themed coffees and teas. We do a lot of theme park inspired stuff and have stayed away from any trademark infringements with our art designs on the bags. We are looking to do licensed stuff in the near future though.
Doing what you're doing would be a little harder to come up with something that isn't that college or mascot but close enough.
Like others have said, get a business name, website and get on social media with that name. We grew a lot by interacting on social media with other like interest people and groups. Hashtags help people find your posts. The algorithms on Facebook and Instagram are always changing and never for the better for the small business person. Promoting posts on their or ads can help too and you can set it for a low amount to start.

One thing about states with front plates. I know in NJ that any license plate frame that block the state name or slogan along the top and bottom of the plate is illegal and you can get ticketed for it. Most cops don't but they can. They was recent story on it about how dealer plate frames that block those area were getting the drivers ticketed. Of course it fell on the dealerships to pay when pressed on the matter but just be careful on what it covers.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
States that DON'T require a front plate. So, I know where to concentrate my efforts!! LOL!
 
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