Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thus Far the Flood Has Been Neither Fun Nor Profitable

I do this thing sometimes where I write something somewhere else and then completely forget to mention it. You ever do that? Maybe I'm just getting old, I don't know. I need to start hitting the ginkgo biloba; I didn't even remember how "ginkgo biloba" is spelled, so I had to look it up, that's how old I'm getting. I can't wait until I'm legit old enough that nobody expects me to remember anything, I'll be calling it "Kinko Balboa" and calling every video game "the Nintendo", it's going to be the best.

naaah who am i kidding i'll be dead by thirty

Anyway, I wrote a thing, here's a bit of backstory behind how it came around. We're now only a few months away from the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which is going to be just the most obnoxious media bullshit event imaginable, and I'm expecting the documentaries -- the incredibly-coincidentally-timed hey-look-at-that-what-are-the-odds documentaries -- to number somewhere in the low hundreds. But the documentary I'd really be interested in, were anybody out there doing it, would be a ten-year retrospective of the cynically ludicrous 9/11 commemorative products that companies hurried out and peddled to squeeze every cent they could from the ever-noble business of commercial profiteering off a terrorist attack.

Commemorative memorial ceramic dishes! Commemorative memorial shirts and sweaters! Commemorative memorial coin sets! Commemorative memorial license plates! Commemorative memorial teddy bears! Commemorative memorial candy toys! Commemorative memorial Ziggy posters! Commemorative memorial gold chest medallions! Precious few of these products donated so much as a dime to anything, and these products were EVERYWHERE. Even now you might innocently borrow a magazine from your local library, flip through it at your leisure on a lazy summer day, and out falls an inset card offering to sell you a commemorative memorial September 11th cribbage board or whatever the hell.

September 11th obviously got the lion's share of disaster-related merchandising, being the one that people saw on TV most often. But comparatively smaller events do still tend to generate some purchasables -- and usually with better intentions, more cents per dollar heading charity's way, since there's less profit to be made overall. You may recall that Manitoba's 1997 flood produced amazing items like this, and like the "Flood of the Century" yellow-on-white t-shirt that I swear I have actually seen worn in public as recently as last year. Like somewhere in this city there's a guy sitting on an extensive goldmine of local retro shirts, got a whole warehouse of Winnipeg Thunder and Wet 'n' Wild shirts just appreciating wildly as we speak.

So what will we do for this year's flood, already a record-setter and continuing to make lives miserable for the foreseeable future? So far, nothing, but I wrote this column for the most recent Uptown Magazine by riffing on the possibilities. And here you'd thought that I was just being a jerk! Ha ha! Granted, in the interest of full disclosure: I cracked myself up with that second suggested Brandon slogan, so actually I am kind of a jerk. Sorry, Brandon!

Everybody's still too busy right now pumping basements and being damp to get too excited about merch, but we'll see what emerges once everything settles down a bit. And when it does, and the shirts come out -- buy 'em and save 'em! You're going to be the coolest guy around in about fifteen years.


Colin said...

Actually living in Brandon, I can say that second slogan was pretty funny. Hey, we need something to take our minds off the immense walls of super-sandbags that will line our major streets for the rest of time.
(pointless aside: we are still forced, on a road with a normal speed limit of 70 km/h, to drive **30**, despite a big portion of the slow zone being nowhere near the dikes...grr).

Speaking of shirts-as-investment-opportunity, the real goldmine would be in those tacky early-80s heavy metal concert shirts...the flimsy cotton ones with black torso and white long sleeves showing bands like Iron Maiden, etc.
They were practically biodegradeable, with the result you can't find them *anywhere* now, despite them being pretty ubiquitous for a long time.

Err...that's it.

Shaun M. Wheeler said...

JHH, those of us in the hose & fittings industry are making money hand-over-fist! ;)