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Building Your Own T-Shirt Kiosk – Part 1

In the last issue, Kent Lind highlighted the many choices available for artists operating T-shirt business, from mall kiosks to amusement parks to in-store setups. In a follow-up to that article, West Coast Airbrush’s Pat Gaines will take you through the process o f building your own mall kiosk in this special series.

Over the past 25 years, we at West Coast Airbrush have built many shops, carts, kiosks, and fair setups; we have failed and ultimately succeeded many times over.

1

We have found over the years that mall managers seem to care more about how your kiosk will look anything else, and their vision will change every few years. In fact, we’re redesigning our West Coast Airbrush kiosks now because mall management decided they no longer liked the look of the kiosk they approved just a few years of earlier (go figure). So we began to plan a new look and are trying very hard to incorporate all of the working components into a new aesthetic plan of our booth.

DRAWING 2

The mall decided they wanted an industrial look for our new kiosk. It was up to me to figure out what it was they were talking about. I roamed the mall and other shopping centers with a sketch pad and a camera to capture images to help the mall managers realize what it was that they wanted. Once I showed them the photos, we started some simple line drawings to work on an idea for the kiosk (Drawing 1). During several meetings, these plans developed into a final set of working drawings of a kiosk that captures many of the design trends seen in shopping malls today nationwide (Drawings 2 , 3, and 4).

DRAWING 4

All of the kiosk’s wood components will be made out of MDS board. This light brown particle type board will be made into all of the cabinets, pillars, and special airbrush components and then treated with a heavy gloss industrial enamel finish. We further accented the industrial look by adding galvanized steel counter tops and wraps around pillars and counter bases.

Lighting on the booth i s supplied from halogen pin lights placed a bit out of sight with large industrial safety lights taking center stage over the counter.

The design of this booth is called a “walk-through.” This means customers walk through this booth rather than a regular kiosk where customers walk up and stand on the outside of the booth. A walk-through booth design requires more space. Our kiosk will be 10 feet wide and 16 feet long. This allows the working part of the booth to be 8 by 10 feet and the customers’ area to be about the same including the display area. The booth operates by allowing the customer to walk into the open space toward the middle of the kiosk facing the counter. This is where we answer questions and take orders.

When customers turn around, they will be looking at a full display of kids’ T-shirts hanging on the inside of the end wall. The shirts are hanging on waterfall display bars hooked to slat wall. MDS slat wall board is the system for shirt display throughout the entire kiosk.

When customers walk outside the kiosk and around the end corner, they will find the entire adult T-shirts and sweats. On the other outside end of the booth, on the back of the easel, customers will make their design choices by roving through a large flip rack system. Each of the 20 15-by-6-inch pages holds ten shirt designs or 2 0 tag designs. Over all, 250 designs will be accommodated in this flip rack area of the kiosk. Hanging fixtures and display hardware from 12-inch slat wall wraps around the six pillars found in the kiosk design will accommodate other display and merchandising.

No matter what the specifications of your kiosk will be, we know that to satisfy mall management, we must create a shop that not only looks great, but works smoothly as a production space for airbrushing T-shirts. Our kiosk also must give customers good visual access to the airbrush artist and to a large selection of airbrush designs and blank goods (T- shirts, sweatshirts, hats, towels, mouse pads, etc.) from which to make choices. From your standpoint as an artist, the working area of the kiosk must incorporate many functioning components. Let’s look at these items one by one:

Ventilation for the Easel Area

Nobody wants to stand and breathe airbrush overspray all day, but how d o you build a functional vent system into an airbrush kiosk? Well, we build it right into the easel. We call it a “through the face vent system,” meaning we leave slots in the front of the easel and mount ventilation fans behind to suck the soiled air through the face of the easel. We then pass this air through filters and exhaust the air away from the work area. This system works very well and I suggest it to everyone.

Ventilation for Clear Coat

Fumes Adhesive and clear coat fumes can be a major problem in the center of a mall. The smell alone can ruin your day, but this sticky overspray will make a nice clean airbrush booth become very dirty very quickly. W e have solved this sticky problem with a very simple solution. We just trap this sticky problem with a very simple solution. We just trap this overspray and let it settle in one place, rather than all over our booth. We do this by building an adhesive and clear coat cabinet. Always plan this area of the kiosk for easiest access. It consists of a door hinged at the bottom of a cabinet that contains a window box fan. There is a furnace filter placed on the front of the fan to catch the overspray. Open the door, spray the stencil with adhesive or the tag with clear coat close to the filter on the box fan, then slam the door shut really fast when you’re done. This smelly, sticky air is trapped inside the cabinet and stays put. Hey, it works!

Cash Wrap

A good, efficient sale area is a must for speedy sales. Plan this area to include your cash register and credit card terminal, a drawer for pens, ticket books and office supplies, a shelf for merchandise bags, and a trashcan.

Stencil Drawer

Storing your stencils and shirt boards so you can find them quickly when you are busy is a very big deal when designing your booth. We use a special cabinet built just for this application. A large pull-out drawer just behind the artist holds all the stencils in a very orderly manner. All categories of designs have a special slot in this drawer and are very easy to access. Built onto the side of this cabinet is a T-shirt board storage bin. We always have a bin like this in our setups so the boards stay in one place and in some kind of order. And, in their bin they are out of sight when not in use, which leaves the kiosk looking a little neater.

Soundproofing

We build a sound dampening cabinet for the air compressor. in all of our kiosk designs. This cabinet i s located just to the left of the workspace area when you walk into the kiosk. It opens wide to allow a pancake style compressor to fit into place. This cabinet is outfitted with sound dampening insulation to quiet the compressor.

To keep it cool, we use a small ventilation fan (just like the ones used in the easel vent system) to keep the cool air moving around the compressor: Keep in mind we use regular compressors-not silent compressors-because we have two artists working off the compressor most days during busy periods such as holidays. Silent compressors tend to overheat when pushed to these extremes. Not good on a busy day! With regular compressors, you don’t have this hassle.

Storage

GALLERY

In such a small space, storage for all your blank goods is tricky. In this kiosk, every usable area is enlisted for extra storage. This includes the counters the insides of the pillars, and areas above and below the easel. It’s very important to understand that everything in a kiosk must have an out-of-sight storage area. You cannot have airbrush painting supplies littering the tops of all your counters.

Power

WEST COAST

Most airbrush kiosks require 50 amps to supply enough power for your air compressor, hot press, lights, and vent systems, however most malls are not set up for this. You’ll have to talk to mall management to work out who will pay to run the extra power to your kiosk. Normally, this means removing the floor in the mall, trenching an avenue to run the new larger electrical cord, and then routing this to a nearby breaker box. At the very least, it can cost $500; but it can go as high as’$5,000. The mall may split this bill with you 50-50.

LAST

As for the electricity wiring in the booth itself, you will want to have all your wiring done professionally (the mall will require this standard). Have all your wiring centralized in a breaker box so you have easy access to control your various electrical components.

In the next installment of this article, I will show the construction and ultimate installation of this kiosk. Until then, as always “just do it!”

Click here to read Part 2

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