Sales of official Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games merchandise are wildly exceeding expectations.
By the time the Games end, merchandise sales might be double what was expected, said Ben Erps of All Pro Championships, the Louisville-based official licensing organization of the Games.
Sales before the Games' start had also been above expectations. In fact, sales of official merchandise — from T-shirts and caps to more unusual items such as collectible horses and walking sticks — surpassed the sales of merchandise at the 2006 Games in Aachen, Germany, about two years ago.
"We knew on-site would be the main and biggest sales opportunity," Erps said. "The challenge with that is we had 31/2 years to sell the other stuff and just 16 days here."
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But the Games are long enough that some merchandise that sells out, such as apparel, can be produced again for sale. Unfortunately, some hot sellers, like rubber bracelet horsey bands are gone for good.
"Those are import items, so they would literally be on the slow boat from China," Erps said.
The company sold out of jackets on-site — "We missed an opportunity with it being really cold," Erps said — but had more arriving. Another big seller has been saddle pads. About 10,000 have been sold, he said, including several thousand this week.
Erps credited some of the shopping frenzy with pricing. The company's basic T-shirts sell for $22 plus tax. In contrast, shirts at the 2006 Games sold for more than $26, and events like the Super Bowl start shirt prices closer to $30, he said.
The company did find that it didn't target apparel sizes well, though.
"Our Derby and Super Bowl lines skew much more to the larger sizes," Erps said, meaning sizes large to double extra-large. "The Games crowd gobbled up our smaller sizes (small and medium) fast.
"We were quickly able to adjust our inventory to meet this demand."
It's not yet clear what kind of impact that royalties from increased merchandise sales will have on the bottom line of the organizers of the Games, said Terry Johnson, the organizers' vice president of sales and marketing.
"We won't know exactly what it means to the bottom line until after the event," he said.
Johnson attributed the interest to the fact that this is the first time the Games have been in the United States.
"We've also had a good variety of products from various pricing levels," he said. "I think our pricing has been very reasonable, and there's a little bit of something for everybody."