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Managing Community Events & Merchandising At The Same Time

Rochelle Thiel | Community Events & Merchandising Manager | Kitchener Rangers

Time management and prioritizing is key to ensuring everything gets accomplished.

Rochelle Thiel

Community Events & Merchandising Manager

Kitchener Rangers

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

Tell us about your role as the Community Events & Merchandising Manager for the Kitchener Rangers. What does a typical day look like for you?

As the Community Events Manager, I am the lead on events that we run internally and in the community. In addition to that, I coordinate player and mascot appearances with Community Groups and Sponsors.

With regard to being the Merchandising Manager, I look after all aspects of running the team store, Rangers Authentics. This includes some of the following: purchasing, inventory management and managing staff.

A typical day does not really exist for me, more a typical schedule. Thursdays and Fridays are my only two days where I consistently know what will be occurring in season. That’s because Thursdays are the only store hours outside of game days, and Fridays are usually our home games.

With regards to the other days, I typically will do appearance’s Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in addition to Saturdays and Sundays when the team is in town. When I am not at an appearance, you will find me in the office completing some of my administrative duties. This could be reaching out and confirming appearances, contacting and documenting donations are a few examples.

Overall, to sum up, a ‘Typical Day’, it is more a typical schedule for me. My schedule is dependent on what the schedule is for the team for the season.

Your role with the Kitchener Rangers entails being the Retail Manager, ensuring the successful coordination of community events and working in game operation. With so much on you plate at once, how are you able to manage each, prioritize your time and ensure everything is taken care of?

Time management and prioritizing is key to ensuring everything gets accomplished.

I have personally tried to accomplish this by utilizing my designated days for the store and game days. As mentioned, on Thursdays we have our store hours which is also a day that I use to have any meetings with suppliers and also look at inventory levels.

With that, for events and game day coordination I try to reach out to all participants a week out from events to allow some time for any last-minute addition to appearances or game day requirements.

As an office, this is something that we have been trying to move forward with so that we are all in sync and have all events and game days prepped days out from the event.

The success of a team or player can have a significant impact on retail in the sports industry. What experience or anecdotes can you speak to that provide insight into this situation occurring?

On ice success definitely can contribute to how popular our store is. One trend that I have seen over the past couple of seasons when we do clinch playoffs is that sales do increase in anticipation for the playoff run.

Outside of this, I have tried to implement a few strategies to keep fans engaged with the store game after game.

One example is implementing the Save of the Game program, where we feature a certain product at a discounted rate each game.

Shifting to the event side of your role, what steps do you take to handle last minute or unexpected setbacks before and during an event?

When planning an event, I like to anticipate scenarios that could occur and ways I could handle them if something does happen. One event that comes to mind is our Fan Fest; this is something I have assisted with since starting in 2014.

There was no rain plan in effect with the event being outside.

Rochelle Thiel | Community Events & Merchandising Manager | Kitchener Rangers

This first year I came up with a solution if it were to happen which was to move the autograph session inside to one of the lower rinks. We were very fortunate to not have rain until the 2018-19 season.

Fortunately, we did not have to divert to the rain plan, but it did help me come up with another possible solution that would benefit the event in both rain or shine with having tents for the autograph session. This is something I implemented this past season to assist with the sun but also in case it does rain. Allowing our event to occur rain or shine!

If someone wants to be successful in event operations, what do you believe are the three most important skills or attributes they need to have?

It was so hard to pick just three….

  1. The first skill that I think is important is leadership. When running events, you are managing a bunch of different components and people. You have to be able to communicate and successfully instruct your vision to all so the event is executed as planned.
  2. Flexibility and adaptability are also key. Even with an event plan, things will not always go as planned. One must be able to recognize and react to certain situations that may need to be re-worked. All, of course, needing to occur in a timely matter.
  3. Effective communication would be a top contender as well. As mentioned with leadership, you need to be able to have effective communication when dealing with everyone involved so your event is a success.

Hayley Michie Hayley's Final Thoughts

In a role like Community Events & Merchandising Manager, Rochelle Thiel has her hands full. For an NHL team, each of these would be its own role. As Rochelle mentioned, she has to prioritize what gets accomplished each day and has designated days for retail and event operations. Beyond this, Rochelle Thiel is always thinking of new ideas to promote the Rangers’ brand. From the Save of the Game promotion to thinking ahead at Fan Fest in case of contingencies, Rochelle Thiel is ahead of the game.

Connect With Rochelle Thiel