Stitches

Adding Embroidery Hits Mark for Illinois Decorator

Target Decorated Apparel (asi/90549) in Naperville, IL, has long been known for its high-quality and innovative screen-printing capabilities, but a few years ago, Steve Kanney, owner and president, decided it was time to do more. So, he added 15 embroidery heads to the shop floor, then acquired a company called U.S. Embroidery and was able to add another 35 heads. Today, Target has about 65 heads, and embroidery accounts for about 25% of orders. Building up the newest facet of business took some finessing, however. “We started out pretty slow, and it wasn’t building real dramatically,” Kanney says. Target’s strategy was to offer free digitizing, as a way to entice new customers. “It lowers the bar from a trial perspective,”

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Steve Kanney of Target Decorated Apparel (asi/190549) views embroidered logos as a sort of annuity for his shop

Kanney says. He considers embroidered logos a kind of “annuity,” since companies tend to keep their logos static for at least a decade, so eating that one-time digitizing cost for artwork that will be reused frequently makes good fiscal sense.

Adding embroidery has opened other doors for the shop. Combined with its standalone laser, the embroidery machines have helped Target expand into mixed media design, helping the shop stand out from the crowd. “It’s really taken us from being a screen printer to a decorator,” Kanney says. Embroidery orders also help smooth out wintertime slumps when orders of screen-printed tees typically plummet. Clients often want to purchase higher-quality embroidered items as gifts around the holiday season. “It’s taken away some of that seasonality from sales,” Kanney says.