I am pleased to announce that the new Room 34 Online Store is now officially open for business!
I’m still toying with keeping some of my designs up on Spreadshirt as well, since I like some of the shirt styles they offer that CafePress doesn’t, but CafePress simply offers a broader selection of products and a much better user interface (which is kind of sad, because it’s still not that great) for managing the store. Anyway… enough of that crap. Buy my stuff! I have some new designs posted along with my “classic” designs, and some more are on the way soon.
Yeah, yeah… kind of a lame pun for a headline, but it’s not as lame as I’ve come to realize the Spreadshirt store set-up interface is. I was casting around for alternatives to CafePress, and thought I had found one in Spreadshirt. Their design seemed clean and fresh, their prices more reasonable. But that was before I actually got started setting things up. Not only is the end result rather hackish looking (and I’m just talking about the website here, not the products, which I haven’t actually tried ordering yet), but the pricing scheme is much less straightforward and generally higher than that of CafePress.
I do like the broader selection of shirts, even if Spreadshirt ultimately has less product types overall. But man, oh man. The interface for setting up your products is godawful. The seemingly clean “Web 2.0”-ish interface belies the completely unintuitive, poorly organized and buggy process setting up a product turns out to be. (Oh, and did I mention that you have to type a title, description and keywords for each design… and then type them all again when you add the design to a product… and a third time when you add that product to their “Marketplace”? Well yeah… you do.)
The worst part of all is that if you set up your own shop with them, and if you bother to click one of the “fine print” (literally and figuratively) links at the bottom of the page, they publish your address right there for everyone to see. I’m sure I agreed to this when I hastily clicked the “I agree to this by hastily clicking this button” button. But still… even though I realize they’re mainly just trying to cover their own collective ass in case of copyright infringement, it doesn’t seem necessary (not to mention very nice) for them to do this.
I want to get my designs out there though (even though so far they’re pretty much all the same ones I already have up on CafePress), and you can put designs in the Marketplace without actually creating or activating your own store (and you still get your commission when your design gets made into something). So… go on… check out my designs. If I manage to muster the fortitude (or the desperate boredom) to spend a little more time adding products to this site (along with some currently inconceivable justification for not just doing it on CafePress instead), I might actually open up my shop there as well. But don’t count on it.
Update November 18, 2007: I withdrew this post a few weeks ago, after receiving an email from CafePress notifying me that they had received a cease and desist notice from NBC/Universal’s lawyers regarding the huge number of CafePress shops that were selling products that infringed upon NBC’s intellectual property rights to every word uttered in an episode of The Office — or for that matter, every thought that has ever passed through the minds of the show’s writers. Or something like that. At any rate, CafePress had already summarily removed all “Schrute Farms Beets” items from my store. I don’t blame them; it’s just lame that NBC is taking this approach. Of course, that’s partly because NBC is selling their own Schrute Farms Beets shirts, which naturally are more accurate to the one Dwight wore in the episode. (Mine wasn’t quite homemade-looking enough.) So if you’re looking for a Schrute Farms Beets shirt, by all means buy the official product. But if, on the other hand, you are interested in one of my other stupid original designs (the sliver of hope of which is what inspired me to reinstate this post), read on.
After last night’s uproarious season premiere of The Office, I couldn’t resist the temptation to jump on the unofficial merch bandwagon with the 2000+ other Office-inspired items available on CafePress, mainly because no one else seems yet to have nailed the cheap, homemade, stenciled look of Dwight’s “Schrute Farms Beets” shirt. I didn’t totally nail it either, without a perfectly accurate stencil font at my disposal, but this is at least a lot closer than what else I’ve seen out there. (A lot of people have come up with very elaborate and well-designed logos for the Schrute Family Farm, but they seem to have missed the point. Last night’s episode demonstrates that if the Schrutes did have shirts, they would only sport the most rudimentary of designs.)
And so, my offering. I’ve attempted to recreate the “bleed-over” look of a painted-on stencil, since that appears to be how the actual shirt Rainn Wilson was wearing was made. Three styles of shirts are available now in the Room 34 Online Store with this design.
But Wait! There’s More!
I went a bit crazy with the designs tonight. Here are a few more that are also available now! (Click on any for a closer look. Then click here to buy one! You know you want to!)