Wrexham FC is aiming to score a major financial coup by opening its latest temporary shop in the town’s busy Eagles Meadow shopping centre in time to capture the lucrative pre-Christmas market.
The club’s commercial manager Steve Cook says the goal is to set the seasonal till jingling to the same tune which reaped an £80,000 sales bonanza for the Dragons from the pop-up shop they had at the centre in the run-up to their memorable FA Trophy victory last year.
Early signs of success are good as the new shop is already notching up takings of around £1,300 day from fans clamouring to get their hands on a wide range of club-branded goods, from traditional ties and mugs to a new line of babywear.
And its opening coincides perfectly with a new exhibition at Eagles Meadow highlighting the history and impact of social and business co-operation of which the highly successful takeover of Wrexham FC by its fans two years ago is one of two shining local examples, along with the revival of a shut-down Wrexham town centre pub as a Welsh cultural centre.
The new club shop went into business last weekend in a high-profile spot at Eagles Meadow where it will remain open, seven days a week, until January 6.
Commercial manager Steve Cook said: “Since the new club went under new management we have been lucky enough to have two temporary pop-up shops at Eagles Meadow and both have done extremely well for us.
“The first one was there for the weeks covering our FA Trophy run in the spring of 2012, which ended in our historic 4-1 defeat of Grimsby Town 4-1 on penalties. From that we had sales of £80,000 from which we made a fantastic profit of about £35,000.
“We also had the trophy on display in the shop for a week following our win at Wembley.
“Last August we were able to open the shop again to tide us over the period while our regular club shop at The Glyndwr Racecourse ground was undergoing a major facelift.
“That coincided with the launch of our new home shirt one memorable Saturday morning when we had crowds queuing up outside to buy them as they were being filmed for a Welsh-language documentary on Wrexham screened on S4C.
“In the four weeks it was open that shop did very well for us and took £18,000 on its first day of opening.”
Steve added: “We’re very grateful to the management team at Eagles Meadow for letting us have the latest temporary shop so we can cover the Christmas and New Year period.
“It’s being manned by a handful of our staff and a large team of volunteers.
“We’re selling club-branded ties, mugs and slippers along with seasonal items such as winter hats and dressing gowns.
“We’ve also got a neat line in babywear, including things like sleep-sets and a bib which carries the motto ‘Dragons’ Best Dribbler’.
“As it’s the club’s 150th anniversary next year we will be previewing a few of the special commemorative items we’ve had made for that.
“The shop will be open from 9am-5pm from Monday to Saturday and from 11am-5pm on Sundays.
“The shops we’ve had at Eagles Meadow have always done really well for us because it’s such a prime location which attracts an enormous football.
“We tend to attract dormant fans who don’t always get to see us on match days but still like to be associated with the club. We’re also getting quite a few parents in who want to buy Wrexham FC merchandise for their sons or daughters as Christmas presents.
“The takings are already healthy and in just the first couple of days we were open it was about £1,300. Our aim is to get to the same levels we reached in the FA Trophy run.”
Not far away from the Wrexham FC shop at Eagles Meadow is a new outdoor exhibition celebrating the success of British co-operatives.
On at the centre until January 8, The Co-operative Revolution Street Gallery, is a giant street display of photographs illustrating the spirit of co-operation in successful ventures from football clubs to farming and pubs to the performing arts.
In the large circular area beneath the Odeon Cinema and Ten Pin Bowling, it is illuminated at night and features 24 images on three-metre high installations.
Two perfect examples of local co-operatives which have become major success stories are Wrexham FC’s takeover by its Supporters Trust in November, 2011 and, in the same year, the revival of the Seven Stars pub in Wrexham town centre, which is now run by a co-operative as a Welsh social and cultural centre known as Saith Seren.
The exhibition has been arranged by The Co-operative, whose North Wales membership officer for North Wales, Duncan Rees, said: “We are delighted to have brought this exhibition to Eagles Meadow as part of a national tour illustrating the history, scope and impact of co-operation worldwide.
“Wrexham FC is a good example of a successful co-operative after being taken over by its fans.
“The Supporters’ Trust which now runs the club is going from strength to strength, and The Co-operative is currently working with them by sponsoring the back of the players’ shirts this season.
“Saith Seren is another excellent example of a co-operative in action after creating the Welsh centre in the centre of town.”
Wrexham Supporters Trust chair Peter Jones said: “I am glad to see that the exhibition on co-operatives is running at Eagles Meadow at the same time as our shop is open there.
“The club is a provident society very much on the same lines as The Co-operative in that it is owned and run by its members.
“Also, like The Co-operative Movement, Wrexham FC was started in Victorian times with members paying subscriptions. The subs the fans paid back then paid for things like travelling to away games and the hire of pitches and players’ expenses.
“On November 30 it was two years since the Trust took over the running of the club and we are doing quite well.
“We are now officially debt-free and hopefully we can enjoy the same sort of success going forward.”
Marc Jones, chair of Saith Seren, said: “We also run as a provident society for the benefit of the community and therefore another good example of a co-operative.
“We had 140 people investing in the Saith Seren venture to re-open an historic Wrexham landmark who all get an equal share.
“We are run on democratic lines and really do feel very much part of the co-operative family, so it’s good to see the current exhibition in Eagles Meadow.
“We will celebrate our second birthday in January and in the meantime we are looking forward to a successful Christmas period at Saith Seren.”
Eagles Meadow Manager Kevin Critchley was delighted to welcome Wrexham FC back.
He said: “We hope it will help the fill their Christmas stocking with plenty of much-needed funds.”