Re: ROCKET DERBY KITS (And Supply Division) A DISASTER
Ed Henderson (BigEdBSA@AOL.COM)
Sun, 10 Dec 1995 04:14:05 -0500
Regarding the cheap styrofoam rockets
The problem here is quite simple..................
BSA Supply Division - Headquarters Charlotte North
Supply division rarely has the best interest of programming or the scout in
mind when they do their selections of merchandise. Their prices are not
competative at all, and their ranks are filled with former D.E.'s who know
nothing of retailing, purchasing, or programming - just one more step on the
career ladder to becoming a Scout Executive somewhere.
I know, as a Business Manager of a Boy Scout Summer Camp, we took the bold
step last summer of not marching to the National Supply Division
Representatives Drum Beat. The result was a 40% increase in gross revenues
and a more profitable operation that met the needs and expectations of our
camp community. I can't tell you how many staffers, leaders, and scouts
raived and lauded our operation all summer. That, and the huge volumes of
revenue we were generating, were more than enough to reassure our Scout
Executive that we were making the right choices.
There is NO INCENTIVE for BSA Supply Division to worry about meeting the
needs of customers. They don't have to offer the best value! You see, every
time a Council Executive or Camp Director orders from Supply Division, they
know they are getting a portion of the profits being placed in the BSA
Professional's Retirement Fund. BSA guards few things as closely as their
council addresses. They don't want their councils and camps to know about
anything but them. Thus lower cost wholesale vendors have made few enrodes
into most BSA summer camps.
Consider the fact that I was able to purchase DOZENS of items with the Boy
Scout Packaging from the origional sources last year at a substantial savings
from supply division. (Just one example, there is a Individual Baseball Coin
Purse Kit that S&S Arts & Crafts makes for the BSA. It retails for around
$7.99 and I can purchase them for my council from Supply Division for around
$5.70. I can get the same kit directly from the manufacturer with the same
Yellow & Black "BSA Quality" Packaging for $3.90!!!.
Sometimes, as in the case of those cheap Rocket Derby Kits, BSA Supply
Division just looses it all together. A few years ago they changed the BSA
Basketry Kits they sold councils to a new wood shaved type. They even
revised the Merit Badge Books (and changed two words in the Badge's
Requirements) to accomodate the new overpriced Basketry Kits they were going
to push off on councils. Those kits are the worst things I have even seen.
Overpriced, they cost me (if I was crazy enough to purchase any) $3.68 at my
cost with a suggested retail of $5.99! I was able to purchasse my old, reed
kits with the better (and easier to put together) wooden bottems for only
$1.68 and SELL THEM TO MY CAMP COMMUNITY FOR LESS THAT THE COUNCILS AROUND ME
WERE ABLE TO BUY THOSE OTHER POOR QUALITY KITS FROM BSA SUPPLY DIVISION!
Let me say now, BSA Supply Division is, and will always be, a very important
supplier for my camp. Badges, Books, and a few hot sellers like those Hot
Spark Kits I will always buy from them. They bring to the table one enormous
advantage to cash strapped summer camp operations....and that is a very
liberal credit policy which allows camps to order in the Spring, and not have
to pay until the fall for their orders, as well as an adequate return policy.
This forum and others on the internet are filled with what boils down to
complaints in Supply Division. Look at the outcry over elastic pants, cargo
popckets, and pant cuts that don't fit. The see through Yellow Cub Leader
shirts, etc. etc. If a camp were only to go with supply division, they would
not be able to retail Ponchos for under $7.50. So what happens to the poor
camper in a down pour who only brought $10 for the week at camp? At our camp
I use another source to sell a range of inexpensive options like emergency
ponchos for under $1.00. (I still stock BSA's Grey Poncho but only sold one
all summer, I sold over 130 of the cheaper $1.00 and the more durable $3.50
ones I got from other sources).
Camp Directors! Trading Post Business Managers! You have to decide for
1996, will you sit down and just let BSA Supply Division spoon feed you their
entire line, will your camp be a mindless Supply Division-Chips-Sodas &
T-Shirt operation? If enough camps demonstrate that they demand not only
quality but also value, then National Supply Division will HAVE TO GET WITH
THE PROGRAM!!!!! When one of their supply reps started giving me the line
that we should want to support the BSA by purchasing all of their stuff I
pulled out the same unit fuindraising application that I have to fill out and
sign as a volunteer Scoutmaster of a Troop whenever I want to sell something.
The applications states that whenever my scouts sell something, it should
stand on its own Merits. It should be of value. I should not rely on the
good name and reputation of the BSA to pressure people into buying it from my
troop. Sounds like good advise to me, I shall therefore apply that same
standard whenever I place my orders for our camp operation.
I will be happy to swap ideas & sources with any camp director that wants to
improve their camp retail operations, and better meet their programming needs
for the campers next summer.
Business Manager - Thunder Scout Reservation
Flint River Council, Griffin GA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City