The Creswell High School Booster Club in Creswell, Oregon, formulated a clever and fun fundraiser by holding a Retro Night that cleared inventory of old sports uniforms and gear while tying into the school's 70th anniversary with a nostalgic theme.
By Angie Delaplain
Former Booster Club President
Creswell High School Boosters Club
Creswell High School
Retro Night was conceived as a way to help our coaches, whose teams operate on a four-year rotation for new uniforms purchased by the Booster Club, to manage their inventories.
We had all of these old uniforms and sports equipment dating back over 10 years. We just needed a place to better utilize our storage space for new uniforms and provide us with a better way to do inventory. We had years and years of uniforms that were incomplete team sets and baseball bats we can't use because they don't comply with the new safety standards.
So our booster club came up with the idea of having a sale and each team could pull out their inventory. It not only cleared out some old athletic gear while raising funds for individual CHS athletic teams, it helped bolster Bulldog pride. Alumni, parents of former players, and the players themselves took the opportunity to purchase gear linked to some of their favorite high school moments and memories.
It really created a buzz that we didn't fully expect. We held the sale during the home boys' and girls' basketball games versus rival Jefferson High School. We had a big crowd that night and everyone was reminiscing. It went over very well.
All of the sports teams were invited to participate and we encouraged all of the coaches to make money for their teams. The main participants were: baseball, boys' and girls' basketball, track and cross-country, and volleyball.
The only teams that didn't participate were football, boys' and girls' soccer, and softball. The reason our soccer teams didn't participate was because the program is just three years old and we didn't have any soccer inventory. It really came down to if each team felt it had enough apparel and equipment to sell.
Each coach was in charge of bringing his or her own items. I told them that I would set up and decorate their table and put up signage. I'm a graphic artist by profession, so I made all of the signage really cool by creating retro signs that included our school's vintage Bulldog logo.
During the sale, all the coaches had to do was bring someone to man their table--be it him or herself, assistant coaches, or even players--and bring their own cash box. Inventory for sale included older jerseys, team and playoff sweatshirts, and some older equipment such as balls, bats, and water bottle totes.
We placed all the tables near the concession stand where people gather, whether gaining admission, buying something to eat or drink, or at halftime. It was accessible to everyone.
The January 7th event lasted the duration of our basketball games. The school spirit that night translated into stronger than usual concession sales and stands full of spectators who cheered both boys' and girls' home teams to victory, led by cheerleaders who sported uniforms loaned by past Bulldog cheer squad members for a retro look.
We allowed the teams to decide how much they wanted to charge for each item. All the items were paid for in cash.
I think altogether we made a little over $400. Baseball and the boys' basketball netted the most at about $100 per team. Everything was fairly inexpensive to buy. The main focus was to clear inventory and whatever they made was a bonus.
Instead of the money being given back to Boosters and having us disperse it like we normally do, we allowed teams to keep the money and place it into their own individual funds. So that gave them even more incentive to be there.
Even though the teams took in the funds, we sponsored the event because we do concessions, too. We put out the tables and the balloons. We created an old school look and feel. If we do it again, one idea might be to sell the concessions at lower, old school prices--to add a little bit more nostalgia.
We're a fairly small town of about 4,500 people. Everybody is in tune to what's going on with the high school sports and athletic schedule. Our local newspaper, The Creswell Chronicle, ran a pre-Retro Night story. And we also ran a couple of small advertisements to promote the event that cost us about $90.
The advertising is really important. If you plan on doing something similar you really need to get the word out early and create a buzz that you're planning a Retro Night. Let them know that you will be selling nothing but older uniforms and equipment.
Even it's not your school's anniversary, you should still incorporate what year your school or sports programs were established. There are a lot of people who grew up in and remain in small towns who are very nostalgic. They love to remember "those days."
You have to personalize it and you have to make it about the coaches and raising money. And then they will do the work.
We created a lot of hype that night. Everybody really enjoyed it. The Boosters will likely discuss ways to establish Retro Night as an annual tradition.
I had a lot of help from Booster vice-president Tim Jones, treasurer Amy Sierzega, secretary Marie Nickelson, and correspondent Elena Connelly.