“This, probably, unless something really weird happens, will bring us our best merchandise sales ever at the US Open – sales are fantastic,” said Marie Luboszynski, managing director of US Open promotions.
The USA agency does not release dollar figures. But the nonprofit’s public financials show that total pre-pandemic revenue from USGA events – the Big Four being the men’s and women’s US Openings, and the men’s Open, which was the main driver of revenue – came to $45.9 million in 2019 ( excluding television rights), with tournament merchandise sales of $3.18 million.
There are likely a few factors behind this year’s strong performance.
Along with the opportunity to make a unique (if last-minute) purchase for Father’s Day — the US Open is always well-timed in this regard — attendees are “excited to get out, which they haven’t been able to do very much,” Lopuszynski said after nearly Two years of confinement during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even the work-from-home trend is working in the USGA’s favour when it comes to selling its golf apparel.
“Now that we work from home, we wear different clothes, and of course people like to wear golf but you can also wear them around the house, these are normal work clothes now, and that is a lot different than it used to be,” Lopuszynski said.
Lopuszynski and 10 other full-time USGA employees, along with 21 on-site interns since May 1, are gearing up for what amounts to one of the largest pop-up stores you’ll ever find.
Of the 3,800 volunteers at the tournament, 1,100 were deployed to sell merchandise from around 250 different vendors.
The main tent has an area of 24,000 square feet on what is usually the driving range of The Country Club, and is conveniently located between the first and eighteenth slots. There is also an attached tent, occupying approximately 6,600 square feet near Hole 14.
The main cargo tent on former US slots usually occupies 36 to 39,000 square feet, but that won’t work with The Country Club’s relatively small space. But the smaller size is in no way limiting or slowing the pace of sales, Lopuszynski said.
Customers are plucking items from shelves and racks quickly, requiring frequent restocking that is managed via a storage facility in the back of the house that houses 17 full-size UPS truck shipping containers.
New merchandise is still being shipped in — many of Ralph Lauren’s boxes were cataloged before they opened on Friday afternoon.
The weather cooperates in favor of merchandise sales.
With the colder weather forecast for Sunday, orders for an additional 5,000 items of layered outerwear have been placed.
Even a brief flirtation on Friday with torrential rain never arrived despite posted severe weather warnings, many of those present found an unnecessary refuge in the tent.
Umbrella sales rose dramatically.
“We’ve had a very good hour,” Luboszynski said with a laugh.
The biggest seller in the tent is headwear, which comprises roughly 25 percent — about 100,000 hats in total — of the merchandise. There are about 220 different types of hats — baseballs, visors, and buckets — with straw hats already on sale.
The country club squirrel mascot and yellow-green color scheme have proven successful, Lopuszynski said.
“It’s probably one of our best and most famous slogans – people love it, it’s a little different, a little weird,” she said.
Besides hats, men’s, women’s and children’s clothing from nine different companies take up a lot of space, along with plenty of golf items, including about 20,000 golf towels and 25,000 markers.
Prices range from $2 for ballpoint pens to nearly $300 for some men’s outerwear jackets.
Besides about 500 straw hats, other items were sold, such as all Christmas decorations, about 280 inflatable bouncy balls mainly used by children for autographs, about 100 bronze clover ball pens, and about 1,500 small stuffed squirrels.
“Boston is a great sporting city,” Lopuszynski said. “But now that the US Open is here after so many years, I think the level of excitement has been off the charts, so that’s great. It’s always good to be in a place where people think this is as special as we think.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: Tweet embed.