Friday, July 08, 2005


There are stock patches and there are custom patches. Here's a brief explanation of each and how to decide which is best for you.

STOCK - Stock patches are made in large quantities by the patch company and then put on the shelf in inventory where they are sold in small quantities for immediate delivery. Stock patches are often catalogued, sold online, and priced affordably from about 80 cents to $1.50 in small quantities.
Advantages - Generally affordable in small quantities and can be shipped immediately (unless backordered).
Disadvantages - Generic in appearance and cannot be modified to suit your specific needs. In other words, you have to take whatever is available.

CUSTOM - Made to order just for you.
Advantages - You get the patch the way you want it with your own custom design and lettering.
Disadvantages - You can expect to pay at least $150 for any quantity, will probably have to buy at least 100 pcs, and must order weeks in advance.

HOW TO CHOOSE - Volunteers usually buy stock patches for small quantity, troop level activities (Fire station tour, night at the movies, sleepover, etc.) and custom patches for Service Unit wide events and up (Encampments, He & Me Dance, Mother-Daughter Tea, etc.) where the quantity is 100 or more. Generally the stock or custom determination is made based on quantity and the availability of a suitable generic stock patch. A good rule to follow is: If you don't have at least $150 in your budget, buy stock. You probably won't be able to find any company which can make even a small quantity of very simple and small embroidered patch for less than $150. How many custom patches you can get for $150 depends on the size of the patch and the complexity of the job. Regardless, you will probably pay more.

BEWARE THE GRAY AREA (See figure below) - The gray area between a typical troop quantity (50 pcs or less) and the quantity at which custom patches cost about the same as stock patches (approx 200 pcs) is not a good place to find yourself. If you don't plan carefully for your patch purchase you may find there is no suitable stock patch available and you cannot afford a custom patch. To avoid this dilemma, either find a stock patch you like and plan your event accordingly or get quotes for a custom patch and be prepared to build the cost into your budget. As always, a little planning can go a long way toward saving time and frustration later. For more info check out The Premature Committment Trap.