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To be successful in this industry you need to be aware that there is more to just opening the door and selling items.

Don Sharp

Director of Merchandise

Peterborough Petes

× The interview with Don Sharp was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

1Tell us about your role as the Director of Merchandise for the Peterborough Petes. What does a typical day look like for you?

The Peterborough Petes treat their souvenir shop as a regular retail business. We are open to the public 9am to 5pm Monday through Fridays and all game nights till completion of games.

During the day regular housekeeping must be completed. Marking and replenishing stock, setting up new displays, unpacking new merchandise, filling online orders, making sure account payables are taken care of, designing and ordering new products.

I am responsible for hiring and managing game night staff, scheduling their hours, and training. I look after our online store as well keeping products up to date and filling all orders.

2You play an important role in keeping the Peterborough Petes organization connected with fans and the Peterborough hockey community. What are some of the ways you have been able to strengthen these connections through the sales of Petes merchandise, souvenirs and memorabilia?

One way we have been able to connect our brand to the community is through the minor hockey groups. We have partnered with minor hockey to provide them with all of their gear, clothing and accessories.

We order and distribute all of their Petes items through the Petes Store at very reasonable prices. By doing this, our brand is being seen throughout the community on a consistent basis.

In addition to our store, we have recently partnered with a couple of independent retailers to offer items with our brand. This will hopefully hit a different demographic than we might have here at the rink.

In the store, I put in a custom jersey machine which I can now use to customize a jersey in 15 minutes.

This I have found not only increased sales on game nights but business and individuals are using it for retirement gifts, birthdays and anniversaries or other special occasions.

Our mascot was designed to be approachable and friendly and can be seen at public events. Children want their picture taken with Roger!

I try to keep my purchases as local as possible - this builds good relationships with local businesses.

3Tell us about some of your favourite merchandise and souvenir pieces you have been able to promote for the Peterborough Petes. How much freedom and creativity do you have in your role when it comes to designing merchandise?

As for freedom and creativity, I have full control of whatever goes into the store.

The best advice I can give to anyone is to listen to your customers as to what they are asking for. Don’t just buy what you like. Know your customer and who you are selling to.

My number one item was flannel pyjama pants. A salesman tried to sell me on them but the minimum quantity was way too high.

I sourced another company and was able to convince them to let me order 48 pairs to test them out. I sold over 600 pairs that season!

We ended up having a promotional night at one of our games - if you wore your pyjama pants, you could win prizes.

I designed our mascot Roger and was able to have a replica doll made to sell in the store. It is probably our most popular souvenir for the kids.

4The success and popularity of a team or player can significantly impact retail in the sports industry. What insight can you provide into this situation occurring with the Petes?

A prime example of this is a player we have from England. Never before has an English-born player played at this level of hockey. England became the second largest country to follow our team.

I got requests daily from fans from England wanting his merchandise. I sold over 100 customized jerseys to a sports store in England, which in turn sold out in less than 2 hours.

We had fans coming to Peterborough from England to see him play.

Also, past Alumni players that have gone on to have successful careers in the NHL have an impact on sales in the store. Customers often want to be associated with a winner or success.

5What tools or skills do you think aspiring professionals should develop if they want to be a Director of Merchandise in a sport organization?

To be successful in this industry you need to be aware that there is more to just opening the door and selling items. The following areas of expertise is needed:

  1. Good listening skills.
  2. Good salesman (personable, ability to upsell, trustworthy, knowledgeable about your sport).
  3. Knowledge of accounting and money management.
  4. Artistic ability/vision(setting your store up with maximum visibility).
  5. Managerial skills.
  6. Buying skills (product knowledge, know your fan demographics, design).

Jaelyn Terrion Jaelyn's Final Thoughts

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