Promo Items Help Raise Funds For Guide Dogs

Most charity runs and walks have a ‘no dogs allowed’ policy. Not so at the Southwestern Guide Dogs walkathons, a series of walking events in Florida that raise money for the organization.

“It’s wonderful to see people bringing their dogs to these events,” says Andy Kramer, the development director of the Palmetto, FL-based nonprofit that has trained hundreds of guide dogs. “You can’t help but see families with their dogs and not smile.”

At each of the nine events held during the summer, Kramer says, the organization’s guide dog trainers are also invited to bring their puppies and current trainee dogs to the event. The puppies, which Kramer calls “Goldadorables,” are a special cross breed of Labradors and Golden Retrievers. “This breed produces wonderful guide dogs that are able to form and nurture partnership with visually impaired individuals, facilitating their life’s journeys with mobility, independence and integrity,” he says.

Promotional items play a major part in the Southeastern Guide Dogs Walkathons, starting with fundraising awards. “For example, if someone raises $100 for an event, they get a monogrammed T-shirt,” Kramer says, “$250 gets you a branded tumbler. In addition, every attending dog gets a logoed bandana and we also bring lots of branded promotional items from our gift shop, including hats, shirts and leashes, for sale at our events.”

This year’s events raised a whopping $835,000 for the charity – a new record.

The Guide Dog Walkathons are expanding to two new locations next year. “We’ve been able to grow new events in markets where we are not as well-known via grass roots fundraising campaigns that net us more friends and sponsors and help us provide more dogs to the visually impaired,” Kramer says. “Recently, Publix and Subaru came on board, which shows that success breeds success.”

Also on tap for the 2016 season: Participants will be invited to design the logoed T-shirts that will be used as event giveaways. “We work really hard to build excitement for these events each year, and the promotional products we incorporate really help do that,” Kramer says.

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Strategies For Marketing The Popular Summer Staple

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Summer is here, the pools are open, the beach season is going into high gear, and an apparel staple will be on distributors’ radar. Flip-flops continue to maintain their top-dog status on the list of must-have summer items.

In the promotional industry, flip-flops have proven to be a popular branded item. Distributors continue to show off their creativity with embellished soles and straps to make a statement. “Our flip-flop designs this season allow customers to choose wider straps that can be branded with larger imprints,” says Laura Maichel, vice president of sales at Harvest Industrial & Trade Co. Ltd. (asi/61670). “We offer four-color process and full coverage on the sole to create a fun billboard for the brand.”

Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100) offers flip-flops with vinyl or fabric straps, and one of their styles comes with the option of a die-cut sole that leaves an imprint in sand. Because flip-flop straps remain largely unobstructed, whether on the foot or off, “decorating on the strap is by far the most popular and the most visible method of branding,” says Chris Flynn, national sales manager.

When pitching them, flip-flops’ natural popularity should provide significant momentum in making the sale. “They’re fairly inexpensive, and they round out apparel selections after jackets, hats and other add-ons may have already been used in a campaign,” says Maichel. “They’re also unisex, and one size fits most, so they have broad appeal.”

Hot markets for flip-flops, says Flynn, include universities, restaurants and hotels. Also look to the craft beer industry, an emerging market segment for flip-flops that has turned to apparel and accessories to promote brews.

While the traditional flip-flop with a Y-shaped strap remains a strong favorite, don’t discount other sandal styles at comparable price points. “One of this season’s hottest trends is soccer slides,” says Maichel. “Players can slip these on after games or practice for a quick and comfy recovery. They’re also great for a day at the beach and feature a large branding area on the wide strap. One of our clients distributed these to first responders as an appreciation gift, so they definitely have wide appeal.”

“The fanny pack is making a huge comeback,”

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They’re back! Here are ways to capitalize on a retro apparel accessories trend.

Despite a decidedly mixed reception since they became popular in the 1980s, fanny packs, also known as waist packs, are proving their staying power with a revival that continues to gain momentum. Among the celebrities recently sighted sporting them are Sarah Jessica Parker, Jared Leto and Fergie, and they’ve also been popular in retail and on the catwalks. Designers Alexander Wang, Lilly Sarti and Rudsak all featured waist packs in recent Spring/Summer 2015 fashion shows, and Extreme80s, a Web-based retail store dedicated to 1980s-inspired apparel and accessories, offers a variety of vintage styles.

“The fanny pack is making a huge comeback,” says Alex Morin, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Debco (asi/48885). “They’re no longer relegated to the ’80s, particularly the sporty variety that are making huge waves these days.” Currently, Debco is meeting client demand with the neoprene Thirst Breaker waist pack (N6453) that holds two water bottles, perfect for hiking, camping and fishing.

Two of the most popular styles from Nissin Cap & Bag (asi/30107) are the single-zipper fanny pack (1012) and the three-zipper fanny pack (1015), made of 600D polyester with a heavy vinyl backing. “We’ve had a number of inquiries for waterproof and water-repellent styles,” says Vice President Julia Hong, “particularly from customers who might be using these near water, such as water park lifeguards.”

Possible applications for fanny packs run the gamut, says Kevin Xiao, vice president of Atteff International (asi/37455), who cites camps, lifeguard stations, YMCAs, banks, conferences and travel agencies as promising clients. “Some of our high-end fanny packs, such as the Mossy Oak camo outdoor pack with gun compartment (BF1729MO), are good options for outdoor/hunting events and activities,” he explains.

For end-buyers who want a super streamlined look in addition to quick, hands-free access to essentials, check out goband (asi/61103), which offers a flattering, fitted hip-band organizer that’s ideal for active lifestyles. “They’re perfect for yoga studios, gyms, swim clubs, schools and walks/runs,” says Christine Santori, sales representative. She notes that the editor-at-large of Oprah’s O magazine, Gayle King, wore a fanny pack in a fall issue, calling it the “perfect accessory.”

When looking to embellish fanny packs, consider screen printing and heat transfers. Goband even offers bling and rhinestones. Embroidery is a possibility, though often, Hong says, the pockets prove too small for the hoop.

“Many companies are now gravitating toward full-color decorating options,” Morin says. “Lately, decorators have been incorporating cool wraparound artwork that showcases brilliant graphics and contemporary taglines. We’ve also seen some pretty awesome sublimation.”