Friday, September 25, 2015

The T-Shirt Correlation

I want to talk to you today about Walmart t-shirts.

I love Walmart t-shirts.

You know what I'm talking about. Those $4 t-shirts that are stacked (sometimes) neatly on the table and come in every color of the rainbow. I love those things. I buy them all the time. I work with a lot of bleach and food coloring and mess here at the bakery so I destroy t-shirts fairly regularly. The cheap t-shirts are great to wear to the bakery because I don't care if they get covered in black Americolor or the bleach sink splashes all over me. They're not special- they're cheap. And they're great for everyday bakery work.

Now, if I'm feeling particularly whimsical, I might venture into the $9 t-shirt department and get a shirt with a Star Wars logo on it. Or a pink Halloween shirt. But even at $9, I know these are cheap shirts. I don't expect them to last long and I won't be too upset if bleach burns a hole in them.

The thing about the Walmart t-shirt is that I get what I get. If they have a purple shirt in my size, I can get a purple shirt. If they don't have a purple shirt in my size, I can't get a purple shirt. I am choosing from a stack of mass-produced shirts that came in off a truck and have been looked at (or tried on) by I-don't-know-how-many people.

I don't get to choose when my shirt was made.
I don't get to choose what my shirt is made of.
I don't get to choose who makes my shirt.
I don't get to choose how my shirt is decorated.
I don't get to have the shirt made to fit me just right.

But it's cheap! I get what I pay for.

Now, if I wanted to choose when, how, and by whom my shirt is made, I could find a custom t-shirt maker. I could pick out fabric and get the t-shirt made to my exact measurements. I could choose the colors and style and how it's made. I could choose a custom t-shirt maker who is experienced, insured, licensed, and who has a portfolio of t-shirts that show this t-shirt maker is capable of making the t-shirt I want.

Of course, if I were getting a custom t-shirt made, I would expect it to cost more than $4 or $9. After all, the materials are of a higher quality, the shirt won't be mass-produced in a factory- it'll be made just for me. And the t-shirt designer would probably expect to be paid for their time and expertise. The custom t-shirt would probably be pretty expensive- I shouldn't wear it to make cakes. It's definitely a special occasion t-shirt- for weddings, birthdays, or bar mitzvahs. Or maybe I'll wear it on a Tuesday, just to feel special. But it's a special t-shirt, custom made, just for me. It's not going to be as cheap as a Walmart shirt.

Walmart also sells cakes. I'll let you fill in the appropriate conclusions.

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