Just doing a little research and found the eastern US littered with embroidery shops (see screen shot below).
There’s obviously a lot of folks providing custom polo shirts and funny enough its the embroidery machine manufacturers that caused it. They are also the ones who have lost the most by offering cheap 1-2 head machines. Embroidery and screenprinting have always been cottage industries but a business owner could get ahead of the competition in the old days when a good 2-head machine cost $40K+ used and a new 12 head machine was $100K. Great barrier to entry until they started building small 1 head machines for $15K. Now any part-time stay-at-home mom could be in business competing with low fixed costs and variable time that meant they didn’t need a full time salary…..it was just a few extra dollars when the kids were at school. I am in full support of this type of business as my mother did the same thing when starting our business in 1980……its just a hard group to compete against. Ironically, the manufacturers also lost a lot of business in the end since each unit did not contribute as much to their fixed costs and there were only so many they could sell. They also lost the ease of selling multiple machines to one shop and had to start advertising/marketing their product more. So, Tajima, Barudan and many others are much smaller today then they were in 1997 as well.
We have luckily prospered on increasing our turnaround speed and running smaller orders more efficiently by using technology and our large capacity……but we’re always looking over our shoulder for those mom’s and now screenprinters providing custom polo shirts locally.