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|Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor|
|Catching Up: Merchandise Snafus - 10/12/01|
It has been a hectic time around here, and there is a lot to catch up on, so let's jump right in:
A few weeks have gone by since I first told you about the mess with the new Disney Store pin series. After fielding hundreds of calls from upset customers, the Disney Stores announced a change in their purchase policy. Stores were asked to implement a limit of 2 pins per person for all new releases, although some stores set their limit at 5. Phone orders could not be accepted prior to noon on a release date, and customers could not have pins placed on hold ahead of time.
Unfortunately, even these changes were not enough to really address the problem - which is not enough pins at individual stores. One disgruntled customer wrote me, "So, now you can only buy 5 pins per person. That's great, unless your Disney Store is so small that they only get 24 of each pin, like mine does. Instead of one of two people buying them all, 5 people can do it. I don't want to stand outside the store at 7 a.m. to get a few pins, but that's what's going to happen if I want to finish this set. And can you imagine what it will be like in December when my mall opens at 8 am?"
Even those customers who are among the first in line might not be able to buy the pins they want. Several people have reported that their local Disney Store did not receive all of the pins released last week, or that they received very few of one style, and dozens of another. One person said that her local store received 48 of one style, but only three of another. Other stores are already announcing that they have been told that they will not be receiving certain styles of pins.
However, it looks like the pins from the first few weeks might be making it back into the stores. Between 36 and 48 stores have received extra shipments of the first 7 pins, and were told that more are on the way. For some, it's too little, too late. Wrote one woman, who does not live near one of the stores receiving the new shipments, "They turned this collection into a mess. I was perfectly willing to spend the $600 to get the whole collection, but it's not worth the hassle now. If they want to sell me the whole set at once, I'll buy it. Otherwise, no way. I know my struggling little store could use another $600 sale, but I'm not going to put this much effort into giving them my money"
Remember the eBay Auction for America program? eBay got it's share of complaints from sellers, and made a slight modification to the policy. Sellers may now charge the buyer an additional amount for shipping, which will be sent directly to the seller. Instead of donating the merchandise AND the shipping fee, eBay sellers can donate just the merchandise and ask the buyer to pick up the tab for shipping.
Sellers can also specify which charity will receive the proceeds from their auction. The original program sent all proceeds to the September 11th fund, but now sellers can choose to support the Red Cross, the New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund, or the Twin Towers fund. Buyers can further limit their search criteria and find only those items which are earmarked for a certain charity.
The number of auctions in this program have dropped significantly since the beginning. There are only about 17,000 items listed now, compared to 27,000 when the program was launched. After the first two weeks, eBay reported that 80% of the auctions were closing with a winning bidder, and that total donations had reached four million dollars. Donations are averaging about $285,000 per day, well short of the million dollars a day the company wanted to raise. In an effort to get more sellers to list their items, eBay has announced an Auctions for America recognition page, which highlights eBay sellers who have donated items. eBay has said that if every registered user buys and sells just one item, they will be able to meet their goal.
What do eBay sellers think? Reading the AuctionWatch.com message boards will give you quite an eyeful. The change in the shipping policy has not convinced many users to change their opinion of the Auction for America program. Those who liked the idea from the beginning are pleased that they can now be reimbursed for their shipping costs. Those who didn't like the program when it was launched do not feel that this one change makes a difference. With new listings falling each day, eBay may need to come up with another change to the program to meet their lofty goal.
World of Disney Store Invades Disney's California Adventure (DCA)
If you were to walk into DCA's Greetings from California Store, you might wonder if you missed the headline above in the local paper. Greetings was closed for an entire day last week, while the rest of the park remained open, so that the merchants could do a complete overhaul on the store, merchandise assortments and displays. When the store re-opened, it looked like just another room from the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney. Some Greetings CMs have taken to calling the store "WOD-east"
Gone, or very well hidden, are many of the DCA- specific items. The merchandise assortment has been augmented with a massive collection of Disneyland and Character merchandise. Entire walls are filled with Disneyland-logo apparel, Disneyland-logo Toys, Disneyland-logo Souvenirs and generic Character items. The slower selling, non-character DCA items are pretty much stuffed into side walls, or have been removed from the store entirely. Look for much of this to appear at outlet stores in the coming weeks and months, just in time for the holidays.
Store closings are not unique to DCA either. Several Disneyland locations are operating on reduced hours, in an effort to trim staffing budgets wherever possible. Customers heading into New Orleans Square might be surprised to find chains across the steps leading to the Disney Gallery (above). Along with Geppettos and the Villains Shop in Fantasyland, and the Premier Shop in Tomorrowland, the Gallery will be open Friday - Sunday only, and closed Monday - Thursday.
The good news is that the Villains Shop has not been permanently closed, as was rumored earlier. The bad news is that you'll need to plan your shopping trips around the new store hours. These operating reductions are in place until further notice, and CMs at all four locations are understandably upset.
So, you've been to Disneyland. You've seen the awesome Nightmare Before Christmas / Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction. And now you want a souvenir to take home. Something little, like a pin or a t-shirt. Unfortunately, you're out of luck. As of Wednesday, most of the Haunted Mansion Holiday core merchandise had sold out. The 4 different pins? Gone. The neat adult t-shirt and sweatshirt? Gone. How about something for the kids? You might be lucky enough to find something in your child's size, but don't count on it.
It seems that the wild popularity of this attraction, and the related merchandise, was severely underestimated. One manager I spoke to said that Disneyland has sold every pin and item of adult apparel they had ordered, and that the few pieces of kids clothing on display were all that was left. She said that there was nothing more in the stockrooms or warehouses - the merchandise was completely sold out. Rush orders are being considered to get more merchandise into the park, but the cast members (CMs) I have spoken with have not expressed much hope that they will see any stock soon. The displays of Nightmare merchandise at Port d' Orleans have already been replaced with generic pirate items, and it is getting hard to keep even the cart looking full.
If you still want a souvenir, you can choose from leftover Disney Store plush, or the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD and soundtrack. Once this sells out, the wonderfully themed merchandise cart may have to go collect cobwebs backstage until some additional merchandise can be found.
One CM said to me, "They haven't even started really advertising this yet, and we're already out of merchandise. What are we going to do when the holiday crowds get here and there's nothing for them to buy? If this company needs money so much, why are they closing the stores, and why can't they get us something to sell?" I wish I had an answer for that one too.
If you are a fan of Disney collectibles, you are going to wish you had a twin or two come Saturday morning. Collectors can attend four different events in one day. First, Donald Duck and WDCC fans can add a new sculpture to their collections at the Chef Donald event:
Based on the 1941 short film Chef Donald, this sculpture depicts Donald Duck in chef's attire as he prepares to make waffles from scratch based on Mother Mallard's recipe off the radio. This porcelain sculpture stands approximately 6 Õ inches tall and will bear a special 60th Anniversary back-stamp in honor of the film's release year of 1941.
With the purchase of a "Something's Cooking" Chef Donald limited-edition event sculpture you will receive an enamel Chef Donald hat-shaped pin and a VHS video featuring the animated short Chef Donald. In addition, if you choose to purchase your Walt Disney Classics Collection sculpture from World of Disney, DOWNTOWN DISNEY District you will receive an exclusive free gift.
The "Something's Cooking" sculpture will be offered for $98.00. Sculptures subject to availability. A wish list will not be taken for this event. Event subject to change without notice.
Pin collectors have three different lines to choose from. DCA's newest Artist Choice Pin will be released Saturday morning, and it's adorable (below). Vouchers will be distributed at 9 a.m., but I have spoken with some collectors who plan to be in line as early as 5 a.m.
Over at Disneyland, another Stretching Room Portrait pin will be released at park opening on Saturday. This is the second of five Limited Edition pins being released on Saturdays in October. The 5th pin, which is an Annual Passholder Exclusive, will be released on Halloween Day.
And, finally, don't forget that the Disney Stores will be releasing another group of pins from their pin series on Saturday morning as well. Two, (or five) pins per person, no shoving please. After all, this is why they call it pin trading - you're going to need to trade to get all of this weekend's new releases!
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.
In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.
If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.
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