T’s One-Stop Shop Getting on Track

Posted By http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1304363

T’s one-stop shop getting on track

By Richard Weir / On the T
Monday, December 20, 2010 -
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Looking for that perfect MBTA Christmas gift, like say a Charlie doll or model Green Line trolley? Well, keep looking. You won’t find one.

Fans of London’s Underground can choose from a vast array of subway souvenirs sold online or at London’s Transport Museum shop, including an Underground tea pot, a “Mind the Gap” T-shirt, a double-decker bus bib or a “Travelcard” wallet.

New York City’s MTA offers a dizzying lineup of merchandise at two shops and an online store, from subway map ties and teddy bears, to $2,200 Times Square Station chairs and subway-themed Christmas baubles, umbrellas, rubber boots and dog leashes.


“It earns about $500,000 a year for the MTA’s bottom line, in terms of royalty payments,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said of the 72 companies licensed to make products using the agency’s logos and icons.

But the cash-strapped MBTA reaps just $3,180 a year from fees from the sale of its licensed products, said Barbara Moulton, head of marketing for the MBTA.

“This is a huge wasted revenue opportunity,” said Northeastern marketing professor Andrew Rohm, adding the MBTA is missing the train by not cashing in on its “T” logo, one of Boston’s best-known icons.

“There is a huge audience for this type of merchandise,” he said, noting the Hub’s college students and tourists who ride the T would take home a reminder of it.

The MBTA has licensed five companies to produce T goods: the Boston Jean Company sells $169 “Charlie Jeans” that have a subway “spider” map on their back pocket and a token button; Izola sells a T map shower curtain; Tokens & Icons sells token jewelry; and Ward Maps sells antique and contemporary T signs and maps.

Trevor MacDermid of New York’s Underground Signs just inked a deal with the T to produce replica signs of all 270 T stations, giving the T 10 percent of revenues. He has a similar deal with the MTA.

“These signs are iconic and recognized all over the world,” said MacDermid, who figures Fenway, Yawkey and Harvard station signs could be hits like his top New York sign: “161st Yankee Stadium.”

MBTA GM Richard Davey likes to say the T “has a very ubiquitous brand in town, maybe only second to the Red Sox [team stats].”

Moulton said the T is taking bids to launch an online store by June.

“We’d like to model ourselves on New York, ” she said. “I think a lot of people in Boston have that kind of passion and pride (about the T). We were the first subway system in America...We get a lot of trolley jolly.”