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TLCA Merchandise

Discussion in 'TLCA- Discussion Forum' started by Land Schmoozer, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Land Schmoozer

    Land Schmoozer

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    There are comments coming up in the "raise dues" thread about merchandise, so here is it's own thread. (Woody, can you move the stuff from the other thread to here?)

    When Cindy told me they were moving and needed the stuff gone, TLCA needed to scramble. ANC does Toyota's work and it seemed like a good fit. It was also the only place I could find at the time. It has been a slow process, with issues on both sides. Is the website great? No. But that is being addressed by Matt. ANC does ship stuff very quickly and we have worked through many issues, together. Are there other options? Sure. I have spoken with a couple of folks that were interested, but the $150 we gave the Twiddy's ain't gonna do it. Ideas? Comments?

    How about new merchandise? We asked for new merchandise ideas over the course of 4 or 5 months. We got very few. We introduced some new stuff. As of the end of June, we had sold none of the requested items. NOTHING. Ideas? Comments? Folks, I'm really looking for a "why" here.

    How about selling TLCA merchandise at events? I have been to three events so far this year, with one yet to go. I have hauled TLCA merchandise, old and new, to each one. To date I have sold 6 koozie's (all to one guy) and 6 of EV's "retro" shirts. That's it! TLCA merchandise does not sell at events, people buy event merchandise at events... as well they should. Ideas? Comments?

    So, how about some new volunteer blood in the merchandise area? I need to step away from this and devote the time to being a more analytic treasurer. So here's your chance to make it better! Let me or one of the other officers know you'd like to help, and we'll bring it up at the next meeting. TLCA can always use new volunteer blood, and it is always welcomed!

    respectively,
     
  2. Kaderabek

    Kaderabek

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    My worth a hill of beans thoughts....

    The call for assistance here should be taken seriously. The exec board is being stretched very thin. To the point that members of the board can't perform their main function at the level they need/want to. We need some help.

    When we can afford it, we need to hire a designer to update our merchandise.

    Then the Merchandise Chairperson needs to coordinate with TLCA events to have this merchandise for sale at events. After all, they are TLCA events.

    Finally, Casey has two many 80s. :rolleyes:

    TJK
     
  3. Chef

    Chef

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    OK;
    To answer some of y'all's questions from the "dues turned to merchandise thread:"

    The Webstore
    Yes, the current webstore kinda bites it. Here's why. Initially we contracted with one web provider to build and design this. This site sent orders to the Twiddys. Then, a server crash took most of that out. We were without a webstore for a looong period of time, and then decided to start over, contract with someone else. In the meantime, the Twiddys needed to move. It seem a fortuitous time to relive them of their long standing and much appreciated help.
    We contracted with ANC to store sell and ship our currnet inventory, develope a plan for lots of new items available thru a "merchandise on demand" program. Pick *anything* in their huuuge catalog, and get the TLCA logo, TLCA 30th logo, you chpater logo on it. *Noone* has taken advantage of this.
    ANC is a big company, that serves much bigger fish than us, so, this has been slow to develope, as has been the rebuild of the webstore-initially done by them-now being redone by us.
    This *will work* in the long term; unfortunately this long term has been longer than any of us planned for. I do not want to derail this effort before it reaches fruition and turns into what I *can be.*

    New Merchandise:
    We've asked for input at the board level, and in Toyota Trails for ''new merchandise wanted'' ideas. We got very little feedback. We have developed several neat tiems anyway. The Fleece Jackets, the 1/4 zip pullovers, the 30th Anniv T's...all of which have bombed miserably, despite website and TT promotion. Not sure how to make that better, but I want to keep trying...

    Merchandise at events:
    Problematic! And expensive! Our effrots at selling merchandise on site this year has been well intentioned, and not very fruitful. To do this at a bigger level will require:
    A staffed merchandise booth, and shipping things both directions..because it won't all sell.
    This sets us up for an even lower profit level, not the direction we're trying to go.

    I hope that answers some of your intial questions...please don't take any of this as meaning we're not open to "new or different," just a rundown of where we are and what I personally think of it.
     
  4. Land Schmoozer

    Land Schmoozer

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  5. Kaderabek

    Kaderabek

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    Nope. Already got one. Let me know if you see a VW Golf TDI 5 speed for sale though. :D

    TJK
     
  6. MaddBaggins

    MaddBaggins Remember the KnightRider!

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    What exactly did the Twiddy's due when they handled merchandise. What would it take to bring the merchandise back in house. I'm asking, because if I think I can handle it, I'll volunteer to handle the stuff.

    I have no clue whats involved and may have just stepped into it big time. So before I say "I'm in", let me hear about the job.
     
  7. Rzeppa

    Rzeppa

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    To reiterate what I posted on the raise dues thread:

    (1) Our store doesn't say that you can get the rest of the ANC stuff with TLCA on it
    (2) There's no link to do that
    (3) The store doesn't let you out of the store

    That said,

    I did post up some suggestions when the ANC thread came up on BODreps. The Twiddy's were successful at selling TLCA merchandise at past Cruise Moabs, dunno why this hasn't worked recently. Jenn sent me a pile of TLCA stickers to sell at our Rally this weekend, and I intend to sell a bunch of them, plus a bunch of Trails, plus sign up and renew a bunch of members. Last, I will iterate what I posted up on the rise dues thread: There is at least one TLCA member who PM'd me when I asked "so who wants to step up?" about stocking and fulfilling merchandise in-house like we used to do it. I PM'd back with the amount we used to pay the Twiddys and what it involved, and he was cool with it. We do have alternatives.
     
  8. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern Have Truck, Will Travel SILVER Star

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    I recommend you contact Tony Twiddy (TTR on MUD).
    IMHO the biggest challenge is the commitment. Cindy Twiddy has always been an Angel in helping folks and making certain the merchandise got out.
    HTH
    Happy Trails! N



    MadBaggins wrote:
    What exactly did the Twiddy's due when they handled merchandise. What would it take to bring the merchandise back in house. I'm asking, because if I think I can handle it, I'll volunteer to handle the stuff.

    I have no clue whats involved and may have just stepped into it big time. So before I say "I'm in", let me hear about the job.
     
  9. Chef

    Chef

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    Mr Baggins;
    I appreciate your offer to help, but...I'm not willing to go that route at this time. The Twiddy's *entire two car garage* was packed full of Trails back issues, t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, etc.
    As with all things I've laid my hands on during my tenure as President, I'm trying to make this run more like a business. I'm not willing to ship our entire merchandise inventory cross country every 2/3/5 years when a volunteer tires of the job, moves, wife wants the garage back, etc. Shipping Trails alone was $2,000...!!!
    We need to remain committed to making the current setup work as best it can before we move on. Our current arrangment has not reached it's intended level, yet.
     
  10. Rzeppa

    Rzeppa

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    Excellent point Chef...But, what is our margin with ANC? From a business analysis standpoint, what increase in revenue from merchandise sales with ANC would break us even compared to a given revenue with greater margins? At what point do we throw in the towel and admit it was a good try but hasn't worked, even though we've been trying for most of a year? Do not misunderstand, I am not saying we are at that point right now, I was just asking the question.

    As I see it, we have lost money handsomely with ANC due to first having to ship our existing inventory there, then with lost revenue and greatly reduced margins. It will take a LOT of accretive sales to break even and start to add to our bottom line so we don't have to increase dues while maintaining the same membership level and Trails production and distribution expense.

    I still see the dues raise issue from a three pointed view: To keep things at the same level of quality for membership, we need to do some combination of the following three things: (1) Raise Taxes (dues) (I'm on-record as against that, but good arguements have been made for it). (2) Increase membership. 200-400 additional members would put us totally back on-budget. (3) Increase merchandise sales back to where they used to be; better yet, increase them to cover our reduced margins. Alternatively, bring merchandise back in-house to get our margins back to where we only need 3-4 turns per year.

    So far we now have two members who have stepped up and said they would be interested in handling merchandise. And reading between the lines, I'm not so sure Tony and Cindy are out of that offer either.
     
  11. MaddBaggins

    MaddBaggins Remember the KnightRider!

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    2 car garage full!!!! Oh crap! Nevermind, I don't have that kinda space.

    Well, I'd still like to help the club where and if I can. Give me shout if there is something you might need my help with. Location is Tucson AZ
     
  12. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern Have Truck, Will Travel SILVER Star

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    Alan's post reminds me to be clear.

    My response to MadBaggins was intended to help him discover what a giant task Tony & Cindy worked on. I think Alan says it best that we have a process in place and we need to give it time to work.

    I can't say this enough, we're basically a volunteer truck club operating on a national basis. We should pat ourselves on the back for doing so well.

    Our Web Master, Matt, is working on issues as quickly as possible. let's give him time to communicate with the ANC site builder and determine what and when changes should be made.

    Happy Trails! N
     
  13. 66fj40x2

    66fj40x2

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    Just reading this thread, I know I don't have a full understanding of what all is involved here. I thought the ANC idea was cool, but admittedly have not bought anything from them with TLCA logos. Sorry.

    Jeff makes good points about bringing merchandise back in house, but I agree it may be too much for one person or family to handle. Obviously Alvin (MaddBaggins) has an interest in helping but cannot commit to the whole project. I too am interested getting more involved with TLCA, either through merchandise or whatever else I can do.

    Would it be possible to seperate merchandise? Trails back issues here; stickers, koozies & inclinometers there; clothing over yonder? These folks handling the different items, along with the BOD (or parts thereof) could be the "Merchandise Team" or sub-committee to focus only on developiong and selling merchandise. More folks to volunteer, brainstorm, and pimp our wares and develope new stuff as we go.

    I'm just kicking out ideas here and yes offering to volunteer to help with this as well.

    Mike Costello
     
  14. TUFFTORQ

    TUFFTORQ

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    maybe a west coast and east coast merchandise rep?
     
  15. Romer

    Romer fatherofdaughterofromer Moderator

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    I just ordered one of those nifty polo shirts. You have to put something in the company name and phone neumber even though it says its not required.
     
  16. Biscuit

    Biscuit Mars Rover Driver Emeritus SILVER Star

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    I think that the ability to get the TLCA logo on any item ANC stocks is a great idea.

    While merchandise with the TLCA logo is a great asset, I do think more designs would help. With all the other t-shirt designs that have been made and well recieved, I think that new TLCA or generic Land Cruiser schwag could become rather popular.

    I'd be willing to give any designs I came up with to TLCA to include in the store to allow them to be used without expecting anything in return. I'd even purchase a shirt with the design once it was available from the ANC store. That's right I would essentially pay TLCA to help expand their catalog. (This all comes from the fact I pretty much did just that for four years in college by designing the t-shirts for my fraternity.)

    I'm going to assume that with the ANC items it's print on demand, that helps by not having any overhead charged to TLCA. Just a little bit of cash from the purchase going back to TLCA. Print on demand is the best thing since sliced bread.
     
  17. Metal Spice

    Metal Spice

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    Splitting up merchandise is not a good idea, IMHO. Currently, if I need to overnight something, special order something, track somethig, etc, I just call ANC & ask them to overnight, or 2 day air what needs to go out. I can do this at all hours of the day or night & know that it will get done immediately. It is also tracked which means I know exactly when the merchandise is delivered to the customer. If we have to call 2 different people to send merchandise out depending upon what is ordered by a member, you're setting yourself up for human error - not to mention that folks get squirrelly if they order 5 things & only 2 items come 1 day & they have to wait for another week or a few days for the remainder of the order. They'll call me & want to know where the rest of it is & then I'll have the pleasure of explaining that we have 2 merchandise areas & we have to wait for those folks to get the orders packed & shipped out. ANC was put in place quickly & we are still working out the bugs regarding the website. It takes time - it hasn't even been in place for a year. At the very least, give us the opportunity to make it work before you start jumping on the "Merchandise sucks" bandwagon. It has been said repeatedly that Matt will work with ANC's site designer to get the site working to our specifications.The site was set up quickly since our old one crashed & stayed down for months - we wanted something up & we wanted it done yesterday & we'd worry about the bugs as they occurred. That's what we're doing now & we're working on getting things straightened out & more user friendly. It will happen, just not overnight. We went with merchandise on demand because it means we don't need to keep a pile of inventory. ANC also stocks all of our old inventory with very little being ordered from them except for the Fleece, First Aid Kits & Can Koozies. They do alot for us & they do it for little cost even though we continually ask them to store more of our crap that we want to order from another company. Give Matt the opportunity to work with them on fixing the issues at hand - remember, Matt wasn't our Webmaster when the site went up & we went with a bare bones site just so we could generate some orders. Matt has the contact info & he & the e-store deigner will hash things out & figure out the best solution for all parties involved. Have faith. :)
     
  18. Land Schmoozer

    Land Schmoozer

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    Jeff,

    our margins with ANC have not changed, their fee is in the shipping amount. not an issue... the issue is we are not selling much... website is not easy to use, and there are many others selling neat shirts and other stuff out there...
     
  19. wardfoto

    wardfoto

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    why don't we try to kill two birds with one stone.
    in an effort to increase merchandise sales, and in an effort to further market the great and glorious T.L.C.A., why don't we post here on mud, that anybody who is selling land cruiser merch of their own, allow us , or volunteer to, put up a link on their own site to our merch page?
    surely, the wonderful members of this great club, would be willing to help us with a small gesture such as this. simply by creating more saturation, we should thereby create more sales.
    and at the same time, further our marketing goals.
    law of averages. if we are accessible in more places, we should see a better return. i realize that lots of folks are marketing and producing their own land cruiser logo'ed merch, so why not see if they would be willing to help us out with a link to T.L.C.A official merch page? just a thought, and since i'm nobody. take it for what it's worth. but it could work....
     
  20. wardfoto

    wardfoto

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    and oh yeah, jenn? metal spice? that's just funny!!!!
     
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