‘Lemons’ selling well

Edmonton Journal by Piya Chattopadhyay (1997-06-16)

From collector pins to condoms, hawkers move it out. Fans unfazed by prices.

U2 is hoping Edmonton concert fans will gobble up kitschy souvenirs as quickly as they snapped up tickets to this weekend’s shows.

Following dismal souvenir sales at Thursday’s Winnipeg concert, merchandisers are hoping for better sales in Edmonton. “With the flooding, they’ve been pretty hard hit…. Edmonton is one of the three best places on the tour because so many tickets were sold,” said Scott Eisenberg, merchandise manager.

Eleven souvenir stands popped up in and around Commonwealth Stadium Saturday afternoon.

And as soon as they did, buyers three and four deep flocked to the stands. Most of those who stopped by in the afternoon did so to avoid the expected long lineups during the concert.

“I don’t want to deal with the crowds tonight. The music’s tonight,” said Daryl Ulmer who had eighth-row tickets for Saturday’s performance.

Forking over $112 for a poster, ball cap, program, pin set and condoms was steep — but Ulmer said he didn’t mind since it was for his favourite band.

“It’s way too much but I got a really good deal on my ticket and it’s U2,” he said.

Others, like Mark Hettinga were more carefree about dropping $75 for two lemon-shaped beach balls and a T-shirt.

“Who cares? It’s only once in a lifetime chance,” said the 19-year-old who drove in from Saskatoon to see the show.

It was in a Manhattan K-mart Store last February where U2 admitted to liking junk.

“We believe in trash. We believe in kitsch,” said guitarist The Edge at the announcement of the band’s PopMart tour.

But unlike K-mart discount prices, there are no bargains at PopMart.

Fans seemed unfazed at paying $35 for a T-shirt or $28 for a ball cap.

“I don’t mind for U2,” said Shannon Wood clutching her grab-bag of goodies which included a program, pins and T-shirt.

Vendors offered a plethora of souvenirs from a cheesy three-foot inflatable lemon priced at $20, and $5 POP Condom Pack to the traditional black concert T-shirt and collectors pins with the PopMart logo.

Some souvenirs like the Pop Snowglobe, with lemons raining down on the miniature band members heads, and Pop Mouse Pad were not available at the band’s Canadian shows.

While Edmonton fans seemed to be swiftly scooping up merchandise, Eisenberg said PopMart merchandise sales aren’t going as well as on the band’s last tour.

“It’s not as big as ZooTV, but we haven’t sold the same number of tickets.

The $30 million generated from ZooTV merchandise sales kept the 1992 tour from going in the red.

Eisenberg wouldn’t give details, but said PopMart souvenir sales account for a lot of revenue.

“Merchandise is big income for the band.”

For those people who want U2 souvenirs but don’t have tickets to tonight’s concert, three souvenir tents are set up outside Commonwealth Stadium and will remain open until midnight.

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