The Secret to MyClubStuff and How It All Began

So at last,  it looks like we are finally able to start coming out of this lockdown.  But what things are going to look like, and how they are going to be for a while yet, did get me thinking.  It got me thinking about all the sports clubs, charities and community groups that have lost out this year, on their fundraising opportunities.  So many of them, that rely on their fundraising just to stay afloat, will not have been able to hold their usual events.  Activities that they need to earn money from, will just not have been able to happen. Unfortunately, I fear that there is a very real and sad possibility that some of our favourite local clubs and community groups, just won’t be able to open up again, at all.

I know our own rugby club has suffered, and now with a leaky roof that needs fixing, there is a serious lack of funds to be able to do it.  So now seemed a good time to tell you about why we do what we do.  If I tell you a little bit about the history of MyClubStuff, and some of the reasons behind why we exist, that will tell you a lot about why we do things, the way that we do.  I’ll also tell you the story of how we got our name.  All of which has a lot to do with our local rugby club and how we wanted to help other clubs just like it, with their fundraising.

The inspiration

Just in case you didn’t already know, we are a family run company, and we have worked in the business of promotional gifts and branded merchandise for over 20 years.  About 10 years ago though, Tony started talking about an idea he was having, a way to help amateur sports clubs with their merchandise, or more specifically, how they buy and what they buy.  That was the germ of an idea that Tony carried on thinking about, whilst continuing to work on and in, our existing promotional merchandise business (which we still run, by the way).

The birth of MyClubStuff is really where our family life and business life collide.  Finlay, our son, had been playing rugby at our local club for a few years at this point and Tony had been soaked up into the youth coaching team.  What started out as Dad the spectator, quickly became Tony, the Youth Rugby Coach with Mum on the sidelines, sometimes helping out on cold and windy Saturday mornings, dishing out hotdogs, juice or coffee.

Finlay, 2020

When we first started going to the club though, I do remember that there was a club shop in the club house, but it only seemed to be selling the adult kit, as I recall.  Which in a club with approx. 400 mini, youth and junior players, did seem like a lost revenue opportunity to me.   Then after a couple of seasons, even that shop wasn’t there anymore.  It turns out that the club struggled to find somebody prepared to take on the responsibility of managing the stock and to be available to work in it.  When you add in having to fund the costs for buying stock and then storing it in the club house, you can start to understand why, one day, it just wasn’t there anymore.  

For the youth section though and their kit, once a year, an order would be placed for the whole playing kit, for the whole section – and what a rigmarole this was for all the coaches.  I won’t go into detail about the stresses this caused, because anybody involved in this sort of thing will already be very familiar with how this works.  Then, once placed, there was  still a 4,5,6 week wait for the completed order to be delivered.  Followed by the joy of breaking that large order down and getting the correct kit to the correct owner.  Simple enough you might think. Yea, you would think so, not always the case in reality though.

Don’t start me on the timing of when you had to buy your kit either.  Which was usually at the same time the club subscription needed to be paid, which also coincided with the end of the school holiday.  So, already skint from the summer holiday and having to gather up money for all the new school uniform that is needed, we now had to find the funds to purchase ALL of the kit required for the year.  That’s because this is the one and only time that you would be able to order it.  Another personal bug bear of mine as well, was the fact that, because it was only once a year, there was no option for buying a spare, a replacement if Finlay lost anything, or god forbid, he might grow a bit over the course of a year.  Then there was my attempt one year to buy a birthday present for him, of his favourite club hoodie.  I was obviously unsuccessful, it just wasn’t possible.

The U16’s

Added on top of this was the fact that, well, to be blunt about it, there didn’t seem to be anything in it for the club.  There were thousands of pounds worth of products being purchased and the club didn’t seem to be earning anything from it.  With our knowledge of the industry, it also didn’t look like they were getting any benefit on the price for buying in bulk quantities either.  I’ve no way of knowing that for sure, but let’s assume that’s the case because it helps me make my point!  All we could think of was that selling their own merch, was such an ideal way for a club to make some money for itself.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, we are thinking even more about Tony’s original idea.  So what we want is this –  an easy way for a club to have their own online club shop, and to be able to make money from it.  We wanted the merch to be available for people to buy all year round, and for it to be more than just playing kit.  We thought that a club shop should be selling merchandise for supporters too.  We wanted to be able to offer all of that, without the club having to buy any stock up front, and without any of the, already overworked volunteer coaches, to have to do any more work either. But we still wanted a club to be able to take advantage of any bulk orders it might make, say for a club tour, and to get the best prices on those types of orders too.  What we were thinking of uses the Print On Demand idea. Making each item to order only once it has been sold, then shipping it straight to the individual buyer.  If you want to read more about how the Print On Demand concept works, feel free to read my blog on the subject.

We put our list of ideas together and now we have the perfect, risk free, stress free completely passive, fundraising opportunity.  We can access any products a club could need, we can process each order, whether placed by individuals or in bulk, and a club doesn’t have to handle any inventory in either case.  We give each club their own customised e-commerce website and we receive each individual order directly. Each order placed is shipped separately and direct to the buyer too. Each club picks their product range and decides their own prices and they have complete control over what their shop sells and therefore their own earning potential.   We worked on it until we had a service that is easy to set up, doesn’t take up any time to run and provides a revenue source that a club can be earning an income from 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  On top of that it also offers something to the wider club community too.  All of this whilst we do all the work!

How we found our business name

But how did our name come about?  What we wanted to offer with this service, wasn’t part of our existing business and was something completely different.  We felt it needed to be separate company and therefore needed a different name.  We’d been trying to think of the right name for a while, but nothing really fitted.  Then one day, it was a good few years ago now, we were throwing around some ideas again, of what this new part of the business would be called.  Tegan our daughter had been listening in, so she piped in the conversation with her thoughts – and that was it, MyClubStuff was born.

The business behind MyClubStuff may have evolved a wee bit, especially in this last year.  It is not just sports clubs that we work with anymore.  But when I remember how we found our name, I doubt that we will be changing it any time soon.

Now though, more so than ever, we are keen to work with clubs and charities, and offer our services to help with their fundraising.   We set up an online store for them to be able to sell their own range of merchandise online without having to worry about a website, the products, the printing, or even the packing and shipping.  There are so many options as to what a club can do to boost their fundraising possibilities too. Talk to us about our online Fundraising Campaign Manager tool.  It’s completely free and is so easy to set up, that you could have a whole new fundraising campaign by tomorrow.

Alternatively, if you want to talk to us about starting a store to sell your club merchandise, just get in touch and we will be happy to help.  See our website for more details or just to get in touch with any question or queries.  Call us on 02825861058,  email or just complete the contact form on our website too

The Walkers – taken at the rugby club

And here we are just for good measure, a rare photo of the 4 of us, taken at our daughter’s 21st birthday party, which was, of course, held at the rugby club!


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