Exeter City, as well as being very successful on the pitch this season, is also breaking records off the pitch in terms of its retail and ticketing operation.
The club has launched two kits at the start of this season, an away shirt and a third shirt.
The third shirt, which is black in design with a red trim, was put on sale last Saturday at the home match with Leyton Orient, and as ticketing and retail manager Alan Hay explains, it proved very popular with supporters.
“It got a great response from the supporters,” said Alan. “We think Saturday was the highest day of sales the club shop has ever taken in one day and that follows on from the launch of the successful away kit before the Swansea friendly, which at the time was the highest day of sales that the club shop had experienced.
“So, yes, we are delighted because hundreds of shirts are being sold on matchdays and it is ticking along during the week as well. It has been very popular and we are delighted that the supporters like it.”
However, the shop – even without the shirts – has been performing well in recent seasons following a revamp and a careful look at what stock is proving popular with fans.
“We have had a really good start to the season, but last year’s turnover was double what it was from the same time period two seasons previous,” said Alan. “So that proves what a success it has been over the last couple of years. That is thanks to a bit of success on the park, but hopefully the Exeter City supporters can see that we are trying to improve the offering. We have refurbished the shop a little bit and made the layout a bit sleeker and improved the product offering and they seem to be responding in their droves.
“We have got the three kits that are on sale, but most supporters like to buy and wear what the players wear. So we have the training wear and the warm-up gear, that you’ll see them wear before matchdays.
“We have also got the travel wear, so the jackets and polo shirts, which have been very successful and then all your usual souvenirs – pocket money items – and we have now got some thermal bottles and reusable coffee cups, to help with anybody who has got some plastic or recycling concerns.
“Then we have also got our very successful tie-up with The Terrace, the online retailer who make retro mugs, towels and the new colouring book. So we hope there is something for everyone as well as your usual supporter-staples such as scarves, hats ect.”
It is, of course, the time of year where supporters start to think about ordering gifts in time for Christmas and Alan has some good news for fans on that front as well.
“Yes, last year down in Eastgate, in Princesshay, we had a weekend where we had a pop-up shop, which was very successful for those last-minute gifts and we will be doing similar again this year,” he said. “Partners of City Community Trust had some of their staff representing and giving out flyers, Grecian the Lion was there and this season we expect to have some player appearances.
“We are still trying to lock the dates in because it depends on when we have matches, of course, but City fans should keep a look-out for that and we will let you know when it is confirmed.”
Moving onto ticket sales, season tickets have increased year on year as well, which is another pleasing aspect for Alan.
“This is the fourth season in a row where we have increased the sales,” he said. “We are heading close to that magical mark of 2,000 and what we are trying to do is improve is the benefits you get from a season ticket.
“So, not just 23 league games and access to cup and priority games, but from next season we are hoping to add some even better benefits such as discounts in some local businesses so keep an eye out for that. However, we are delighted with how many season ticket holders we have this year.”
Speaking about the increasing attendance, Alan added: “The average attendance was up last season on the previous year, so there is not just good news on season tickets but on the average attendance as well, and we are already higher on average this year than last season and we are always working hard to come up with ideas, whether it is discounts, whether it is deals, on how we can gradually over time increase that average attendance.
“It is not just as simple as saying ‘kids for a quid’ or ‘everybody comes in cheap this game’, because you might get a small term boost, not make any money of out of that, and then it drops back to normal the following week.
“So we are trying to look at ways to be a bit more sustainable and grow that way. So, for example, the penalty half-time shoot out kids - that come every week - get a discount to come back for another game.
“We have then got the first-visit deal that the Junior Grecians do and then the Junior Grecian deal itself gets you free tickets and we are trying to build by getting lots of young supporters in so they can be the supporters of the future as well and over time we grow and we grow and we grow rather than just trying to do quick fixes here and there, because someone thinks they have had a good idea.
“There is a bit more thought that goes into it than that and it is a bit more of a methodical process.”