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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.”

BIC Graphic (asi/40480) announced that it has already surpassed its 2015 goal of raising $100,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, bringing total proceeds through May to $110,012. The company has also raised an extra $20,000 through an internal employee fundraising drive. In addition, the company will continue to donate $2 for each order of select products through 2015.

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Industry Suppliers Stop Sales Of Confederate Flags
Flag makers in the promotional products industry have decided to stop selling Confederate flags in the wake of the recent mass shooting at a church in Charleston, SC. Quinn Flags (asi/80228), Eder Flag Manufacturing Co. (asi/51678), Valley Forge Flag Co. (asi/93250) and Annin Flagmakers (asi/36256) are among the companies that have pulled Confederate flags from their stocks.
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“It’s morally and ethically appropriate to make this announcement showing that the historical symbolism of this flag needs to be just that – history,” Matthew Quinn, president of Hanover, PA-based Quinn Flags, said in a statement. “The time has come to make a stand and end the feelings of hate and racism that many feel when they see the Confederate flag.”

For Valley Forge, the tragedy in Charleston hit close to home. The Wyomissing, PA-based supplier has four manufacturing and distribution plants in and around Charleston. Christopher Binner, vice president of sales and marketing, said that approximately 75% of the employees in those plants are African-American. “We would never want to make a product that offends people, including our own employee base, and this flag does offend people,” said Binner. “The decision was an easy one and unanimous among the executive level. Unfortunately, it took a horrific tragedy to bring this to the forefront. “

Oak Creek, WI-based Eder Flag expressed similar sentiments in a statement that read in part: “Eugene Eder, the company’s former long-time owner, fought in World War II against the forces of bigotry, hatred and tyranny. Mr. Eder’s primary reason to own and operate Eder Flag after serving in the U.S. Navy was to produce American flags, a symbol of freedom and opportunity. The recent events in Charleston, SC, and motivating factors behind those events, coupled with Mr. Eder’s legacy, led to our decision to no longer manufacture or sell these types of flags.”

Mary Repke, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Annin Flagmakers, said that the Roseland, NJ-based company has halted all sales of the Confederate Battle and Confederate Field Artillery flags in all sizes and materials. “Flags are very powerful symbols, and these flags have come to represent a very negative aspect of our nation’s past,” she said.

The decision by these manufacturers to stop selling Confederate flags has drawn a mixed response from customers and the public, with some applauding the move and others criticizing it. “We’ve had an equal amount positive and negative reaction,” said Repke. “Some of our customers told us they would have done the same thing, and others have not been happy. Everyone has a right to their opinion. But we have the right to manufacture or not manufacture particular flags.”

Overall, Confederate flags were a small portion of industry flag makers’ business. “We sell about 1,000 out of the total 10 million flags we do,” said Repke, noting the flags typically were purchased by historical reenactment groups. Quinn’s customers were predominantly historical associations, said General Manager Ryan Halvorsen. “The sales were fairly seasonal, usually around spring and summer holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July,” Halvorsen said.

Outside the promo industry, major retailers that include Sears, Walmart, eBay and Amazon have nixed sales of Confederate merchandise. This includes everything from T-shirts and folding knives to belt buckles, jewelry and more.

Confederate symbols have been at the center of heated debates since accused murderer Dylann Roof, 21, allegedly killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – one of America’s oldest black churches – in Charleston on June 17. Roof reportedly targeted the church and its congregants for racial reasons. Images later emerged of Roof holding a gun and waving a Confederate flag. Following the murders, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asked the state legislature to remove Confederate flags from the state capitol.

Networking

The opposite of networking is not working. 

What is the most important networking tool, your business card. It is amazing to me how many people still neglect to have a nice, unique, interesting, and memorable card. What do you think when someone hands you a card they printed on their own ink jet printer then tore it out of the pre perforated sheet? I know what I think and it’s not good. Is that the impression you want to leave with a potential client? Of course not, so I am going to give you some good tips. In today’s world of technology you don’t need to cram your card with tons of information. Drop your address and just put the city your located in or where your from. People will see that and ask about it, ice breaker. White space, looks classy, professional and clean, make sure you have plenty. Unique shapes work great, I have a 2.5 inch round card and everyone I hand it to makes a comment about how cool that is. My ultimate goal is to be remembered, not cram information down people’s throats. Believe me, if they want to know exactly where your located they will Google it. Another one is the use of numbers, your fax number does not need to be on your cards, not many people use the fax anymore and if they need it then they can call and get it. Multiple phone numbers, just use one number, if you don’t want people to call you directly don’t give them a card to begin with. Self portrait is very important for real estate, customer service and anyone that wants you to put a name with a face. So I hope some of this has helped you make the desision to change your card and stand out from the crowd. At cool ideas marketing I can help your cards stand out and be remembered, visit cool-ideas-marketing.com for more information about standing out. Thanks so much! Brian Coolbaugh

  

American Apparel Gets Restraining Order Against Charney

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A judge this week granted Counselor Top 40 supplier American Apparel (asi/35297) a temporary restraining order against ousted CEO and founder Dov Charney. Charney is now barred from criticizing the company and its employees and seeking to replace directors ahead of its annual meeting on July 18, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court.

Charney was initially suspended as CEO last June, after which he teamed up with hedge fund Standard General to buy additional shares of the company in an attempted comeback. As part of a standstill deal between both companies, Charney stepped down as a board member and agreed to a number of other conditions. His comeback attempt failed, and Charney was fired in December by American Apparel’s board of directors for alleged misconduct and violations of company policy. In May, American Apparel sued Charney for violating terms of the standstill agreement.

Stephen Brauerman, a Delaware lawyer representing Charney, said his client plans to comply with the court’s order fully. “The court’s order is preliminary and based on pleadings we have not had an opportunity to fully challenge at this stage of the proceedings,” according to a written statement Brauerman released. “We do not believe this decision has any effect on the other litigation he has filed against the company.”

Charney has been seeking millions of dollars in damages in a series of defamation lawsuits against American Apparel and Standard General. In one suit, Charney claims an internal investigation directed by American Apparel’s board was intended to “manufacture” reasons to fire him.

American Apparel, though struggling overall, is still seeing year-over-year increases in the North American ad specialties space, reporting to Counselor that its 2014 promo products sales were $105 million, 6% higher than in 2013. Counselor currently ranks the company as the 14th largest supplier in the industry.