The best customers for the Blue Devils souvenir stand announce their presence
with a rapid tapping of their feet, a palpitating, rhythmic motion of their
fingers against their legs, a slight, syncopated bobbing of the head. Its
another drummer with cash to burn.
Drummers are the biggest spenders, says Gail Schultz, BD promotions
and development director. Though horn players and guard members outnumber drummers,
t-shirts highlighting drummers far outsell shirts or paraphernalia for any other
The biggest selling item, however, is the DVD with video and audio of the
2000 show, which posts sales about one third higher than the next highest
selling item, the audio CD. The DVDis such a hot seller because its a new
product, a new idea, Schultz said.
Sales last year for the souvenir trailer that accompanies the Corps on each
of its 30 plus shows hit a record $210,000 last year, and this year could surpass
that total, helped, not coincidentally, Schultz said, by a sales of $1,000 worth
of drum sticks to a single customer in San Antonio recently.
started to take off, with sales reaching $2,000 to $2,500 per week, from 50
or so buyers. Christmas sales online produced 400 orders, thanks in part to
a 10 percent discount. Though the souvenir stand makes a handsome profit, all
of the money taken in goes to cover the far greater cost of keeping the kids
on the road each summer.
With revenue from bingo declining, the money from souvenir sales
plays a much bigger part in keeping the Blue Devils on the road. Reaching
those sales totals isnt just a matter of hitching the souvenir trailer to a truck
and opening the doors. Schultz starts her research in the winter. I go
to the Gap, to Banana Republic, to see what kids are wearing, whats selling,
then she and a designer start collaborating on color schemes and new
We have a real disadvantage with blue in the name of the corps, she
says. We have to have blue as a major color in the color scheme. Shes
tried to just pick other attractive colors, but the audience didnt like
it. Beige didnt work. A red shirt was awful, Schultz said. It
has to be blue and a complementary color. This year, its blue and
gray. Sand, grays and blacks also work along with blue.
Ideas for new products come from Schultz research as well as requests
from fans. New this year are a coffee mug, and at the suggestion of former
guard member and long time souvenir stand helper, Susie Berry, a two color
baseball shirt. The shirt has sold out in most sizes. Staple items every year
are a tour shirt, which lists all the places the Corps will visit, a show shirt,
which displays the theme of the show, two sweatshirts, one more expensive than
the other and usually a polo shirt.
pair of long plaid pants almost made the cut this year, but was nixed at
the last minute. It would have meant carrying too many choices, Schultz
Though Corps like the Madison Scouts have been successful in selling jackets,
the Blue Devils never have. Its expensive, would take up too much
inventory space with all the sizes youd need. Weve always chosen
to have (jackets) be special items for the (corps members) only. Interestingly,
the Corps makes no money on the jackets Corps members buy from Contra Costa
Trophy, the Concord based store which sells them. One possibility would a
booster jacket sold online, since it would not take up space in the souvenir
Since Schultz took over in 1991, sales have tripled. Her expertise has been
acknowledged by DCI, which has enlisted her to give seminars to other corps
on how to buy, merchandise and run a souvenir stand.
The first trick: have plenty of items to sell to those fans with money to
burn who cant stop tapping their feet and hands.
here to purchase merchandise online or for more information