NASCAR’s at-track souvenir sales structure is getting a major change.
Since 2015, a large white tent operated by Fanatics has been the primary place for NASCAR fans to get merchandise. The tent replaced rows of souvenir haulers divided up by driver and team that would line up outside the grandstands at tracks.
But many NASCAR fans loved the haulers. And they made their thoughts known quite loudly. So starting later this season, haulers will return to NASCAR tracks as Fanatics switches its sales model to a mix of haulers and other sales points inside the track.
“If all we were doing was dumping the tent to go to haulers, I know we’d be taking a step backwards … and we would probably see [our numbers] drop because the tent shopping experience is a better shopping experience,” Tannenbaum said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There are still people out there who go, ‘We want the haulers back.’ You’re going to find most of them won’t say it’s because they didn’t like the [shopping] experience, they liked it because of the nostalgia and they liked seeing Jeff Gordon’s big picture on the truck, which is really cool-looking.
“What we’re trying to do is we have a chance at seeing a much bigger increase of per capita [sales] if we can reach more of the fans more consistently throughout the entire race.”
According to the Sports Business Journal, Fanatics has seen lower sales at NASCAR tracks because of declining attendance. And the company also wants people to be able to buy more merchandise inside the track. The tent and haulers before that have been typically stationed in areas where fans don’t need to have a ticket to access.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 8, 2017
While perusing the souvenir haulers before races has always been a fun tradition, there is absolutely no denying the Fanatics tent has been a much more efficient, if not bland, way to look at merchandise.
At a souvenir hauler, you had to stand in line to talk to someone and then look at what you wanted. In the tent, fans can walk right up to merchandise and find the right size or variety and immediately take it to the cash register. And, at least in our experience, we’ve never had to wait in line to check out at the tent. A driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr. would always have a large line at his souvenir hauler.
Nostalgia overriding reason isn’t a phenomenon new to NASCAR fans if you’ve paid any attention to the sport in recent years. And this is yet another case. It’s incredibly hard to argue the hauler system is in any way logistically better than the tent has been. But if adding haulers back and making other changes means more merchandise sales, Fanatics will be happy with its choice to acquiesce.
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