Running a Shop: The Comedy Routine

Collage of a stand up comedian as the focus

I was playing around with ChatGPT the other day and asked it to write a comedy routine based on operating a decorated apparel shop. The result? Not bad. Here are the results below.

Read them in your favorite comic’s voice and timing!

So, what’s the deal with running a custom apparel shop? You’d think the challenge would be threading the needle, but no… it’s threading the fine line between a customer’s imagination and… reality.

Do you ever get those clients that come in with wild design requests?

“I want the Mona Lisa on a polo shirt.”

Who wakes up and thinks, “You know what I need? A Renaissance art gallery on my chest!”

And screenprinting? It’s like trying to get a toddler to color within the lines… on a moving bus. “Just a little smear here, and now your unicorn looks like a potato. Close enough, right?”

Let’s not even talk about the crazy customer stories. I had a shirt order come in from a family having a reunion. Their family name?


I kid you not.

The Stitch Family wanted stitched shirts. I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. “Submitted for your approval, a family that takes embroidery WAY too seriously…”

You wouldn’t believe how often I get this. I’ll ask a customer for their design and they’ll send me a pixelated mess that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. Then they’ll say, “Just use that!”

Folks, trying to turn that into embroidery is like trying to recreate the “Starry Night” with a box of three crayons.

I had a lady once send me a thumbnail-sized image of a logo and said, “Can you blow this up to fit on a billboard?”

Ma’am, that’s like trying to turn a goldfish into a whale. It ain’t happening without some pixely magic.

There’s always the challenge of managing colors. A client comes in and says, “I want the blue that looks like a summer sky but not too bright, with just a hint of sadness.”

I’m like, “Ma’am, are you ordering a shirt or writing a novel?”

Don’t even get me started on Pantone colors. It’s like ordering coffee these days. “Can I get a hint of 175C with an undertone of 721C?”

And I’m just standing there thinking, “Were those ink colors or a spell from Harry Potter?”

I had a customer once who said, “I need this exact shade of blue. It’s like the sky on a slightly overcast day, around 3 p.m., in late July, but not too late, more mid-July. You got that Pantone?”

Sir, I’m an embroiderer, not a meteorologist!

And then there’s the classic mix-up. I told a client we use Pantone colors, and she said, “Oh, like the pans you make tones in? Like music?”

Yes, Karen, because this screenprinting shop is just my side gig. On weekends, I play the pant-tambourine.

Trying to match the exact Pantone color sometimes feels like tuning a guitar by ear in a room full of screaming toddlers. “Is this close enough? No? How about this? Still off? Okay, let’s try…ah, we’ve come full circle back to the first one.”

Honestly, sometimes I think the creator of the Pantone system was just a frustrated artist who got tired of people saying, “I want that specific shade of purpley-blue, but more blueish-purple.”

So, he was like, “Fine, here’s a whole book of them. Good luck!”

And then there’s this whole thing with raster vs. vector. It’s like asking someone if they want a painting or a photograph, and they hand you a napkin doodle and say, “Just work with this.”

I opened a file from a guy who swore it was a vector. It was a picture of a cat. “That’s Vector,” he said. If this is the future, folks, I’m living in the past.

And the ultimate facepalm moment? “Can you convert this 72dpi raster image into a vector? I want it to be sharp!”

That’s like taking a blurry photo of Bigfoot and asking for it to be HD quality. Sure, let me just enhance those nonexistent pixels!

You know, running a small business shop in custom apparel, I thought the hardest part would be choosing the right thread or getting the colors just right.

But no, the real challenge?

Finding people who know the difference between embroidery and embroilery. Yes, I once had an applicant who thought we were a specialized cooking school for meats. I said, “Sir, the only thing we roast here are our mistakes!”

I swear, interviewing candidates is like playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Instead of looking for Waldo, you’re looking for someone who knows what they’re doing. And instead of a striped shirt, they usually have a confused expression.


Oh boy. “Do you have any embroidery experience?”

Well, I once downloaded a sewing app.”

Fantastic, you start Monday.

And there’s always that one guy who claims he’s a master in screen printing. When you dig a little deeper, it turns out his expertise is pressing ‘print screen’ on his keyboard.

“Well, it has the word ‘screen’ in it!”

Running this shop sometimes feels like I’m in an episode of “Twilight Zone.”

Art requests that make no sense, colors that sound like a weather forecast, and files named after pets. And through it all, I just stand there, thinking, “Is this a shirt order or an abstract art class?”

But all jokes aside, running a small business, especially one as niche as custom apparel, is like threading a needle in the dark while balancing on one foot and singing the national anthem backward. It’s complex, it’s chaotic, but in the end… you get to wear your success.

In the end, if you can’t find humor in hue or jest in a stitch, maybe, just maybe… you’re in the wrong Pantone palette of life!

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those that do.” – Isaac Asimov

“You are only as good as your last haircut.” – Fran Lebowitz

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Teddy Roosevelt

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