The Right Market For Reusable Shopping Bags

With plastic bags increasingly ostracized, there’s never been a bigger demand for reusable polyester bags.

Who buys reusable shopping bags?
More cities are banning plastic bags, meaning reusable totes are more in demand. Think grocery stores, farmers markets, festivals, trade shows – anywhere people carry things. They also have appeal for youth markets, for day cares or as birthday party favors. “We saw a Halloween spike, with people using them as candy bags,” says Aaron Montgomery, director of sales and marketing for Maryland Heights, MO-based Coastal Business Supplies.

How do you ensure decoration success?

  • Be strategic with design placement. You can imprint the whole bag, but the side and gusset edges are challenging. Instead, try sublimating the front and the back. If you want to do an allover print, plan your graphics. When you’re dealing with the seams and gusset edges, it’s tough to avoid blemishes.
  • Consider your audience. When creating artwork, use larger lettering so it’s readable across an aisle. “It’s not like a cellphone case that’s in your face,” Montgomery says. “Use bigger text.” If you use photos in the design, avoid squares. They’re hard to align, it’s easy to spot mistakes. Instead, soften the edges: Then, if the picture is skewed, it won’t stand out as starkly on a rectangular bag.
  • Use a pillow. Pre-press the bag to get the wrinkles out; then, insert a Teflon pillow or heat-resistant foam into the bag before sublimation to ensure accuracy.
  • Heat press carefully. Many polyester shopping bags have a plastic button on the side, so you can fold them up and store them in a purse. If those plastic buttons go under the heat press, they’ll melt and ruin the bag.

What materials/equipment did you use?

  • 12” x 16” white polyester foldable shopping bag with a 5” gusset
  • Epson SureColor F6200 printer
  • Tacky sublimation paper
  • Hotronix Fusion 16” x 20” heat press
  • Heat-resistant pillow

Sublimated reusable shopping bags generally sell for around $10 each. If you add personalization or a photo, you can up that to $15. Some strategically placed glitter and rhinestones can up the sales price to as much as $20. “It adds value without adding a lot of cost to production,” says Aaron Montgomery of Coastal Business Supplies.

Hotronix Fusion Heat Press
The Hotronix Fusion heat press has a patented dual function, offering the benefits of a swinger and a draw-style press in one machine. You can easily load garments onto the lower platen, allowing for increased production speed. The Fusion comes standard with a 16” x 20” platen, with an additional eight Quick Change Platens available. Touchscreen technology shows you a digital readout of time, temperature and pressure, eliminating guesswork. Visit

Reusable bags are an easy pitch anywhere recycling and green initiatives are strong.

146: The number of municipalities in California that have some form of plastic bag restriction. A statewide ban is awaiting a referendum vote in November.
Source: Californians Against Waste

8,284: The number of farmers markets in the U.S. in 2014. That’s more than double the number there were in 2004, and it continues to grow.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture