Using Race Merchandise to Create Walking Advertisements (and to Generate More Moola)

Sell race merchandise that also grows your race

Think of your event brand as something that needs to be launched into the big wide world. How can you get it out there? Sure, there’s your website and those Facebook ads you paid a pretty penny for, but you want your brand to be strolling around town, saying “Hi” to everyone. The best way to do that is to put your logo on merchandise and sell it. The people who are wearing your swag or carrying your logoed gear will be mobile advertisements in the community and you’ll be able to generate revenue alongside online registration.

Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning on those walking advertisements of yours:

Sell Stuff That’s Practical

Merchandise that tends to sell the best and get the most favorable reviews from participants are practical and useful items. Stylish certainly helps, but the focus should be on gear and accessories that people would use regularly (this also means more exposure for you every time they pull it out of a closet!). For example:

• Clothing (hats, beanies, t-shirts, hoodies, headbands, etc)
• Bags (recyclable, gym, overnighter)
• Bottle opener
• Beach towel
• Water bottle
• Jewelry (watches, bracelets, necklaces)

Note: Allowing people to personalize these items (adding their name, race number, or favorite quote) for an extra charge will increase sales.

Get inspiration from other races who do a great job at selling merchandise, like Girls on the Run, Ragnar Relay, and Spartan Race.



Don’t Be Cheap

Whatever you choose to sell, don’t skimp on quality. Even if it’s something as small as a keychain, participants will appreciate if it’s well made. On the other hand, if you sell race t-shirts that lose shape after one wash or water bottles that leak everywhere, you’ll hear about it from customers. Their money should be well spent, and you have nothing but positive exposure to gain from selling high-quality items.

How to Get a Deal on Merch

We know that high quality isn’t always affordable, so don’t try to shoulder the upfront cost of all your merchandise yourself. Partner with gear and clothing companies to get the items produced. They will take a cut of the sales, or perhaps you can work out a trade. You can even seek out new athletic companies–they will be eager to get their products in the hands of runners and may offer you items at cost.

When to Sell Merchandise

Don’t just sell merch on race day! You should be open for business throughout the entire event lifecycle—pre-race, expo, race day, and post-race. You can sell your merchandise online within the registration system (items would be “add-ons” to the entry fee) and even create separate pages on your website for a gear store. You can also set up a merchandise tent at the start and finish lines. Keep those virtual doors open year-round!

And Don’t Forget…

Remember that all items should be branded with your logo. It’s doesn’t have to be emblazoned at 300% zoom on an item; it can be subtlety placed on a sleeve or an edge. But it should be visible so you can capitalize on the free race promotion that your customers provide when carrying these items around.

Want some more tips or ideas? We work with hundreds of events and can share what has been successful for others. Just drop us a line!

Need help with more than just merchandising? Download our guide on how to plan a 5K race here.