American Jewish History Museum Made $30K in One Day From Sales of 'Yo Semite' T-shirt
After President Trump made a verbal gaffe last week, pronouncing Yosemite as “YO-semite,” the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia used the unintended wordplay for merchandise, and it’s been a huge hit.
At a signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, President Trump stumbled over the word “Yosemite” in his prepared text, pronouncing it “Yo Semites” instead https://t.co/peSgJO0D6B pic.twitter.com/nPKzgjOyFv
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 4, 2020
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the boom happened almost immediately after President Trump’s White House ceremony last Tuesday, when the museum made about $30,000 from sales of the shirt in just over a day. For comparison, the museum’s director of retail and visitor experience Kristen Kreider said that that’s roughly as much as the museum shop made for the whole month of June.
— Weitzman NMAJH (@weitzmanmuseum) August 4, 2020
“It just keeps gathering momentum,” Kreider told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “I just keep thinking, ‘Okay, this is going to be over in the next couple of hours. It’ll die down,’ and it doesn’t. It just keeps on going, and we’ll take it.”
Here’s the wildest part: This is just insane luck on behalf of the museum. It had launched a camp-themed “Yo Semite” shirt in 2011, and typically sold about 100 of them every year. That number climbed to almost 2,000 in three days, and demand was enough to crash the site.
And this stroke of unbelievable luck came at a good time.
The museum had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of the pandemic in March, claiming it owes money to between 200 and 999 creditors, with the five largest debts being more than $20,000 a piece.
“All of a sudden, this just fell in our laps,” Kreider told the Business Journal.
The best part of this is that it’s attracting eyes to other products on the museum’s site, which helps it stay solvent during a tough time. And once people make an order of the T-shirt or anything else, they’re added to the museum’s mailing list, which might in-turn prompt them to visit the museum in the future.
The “Yo Semite” shirt got a little bit of a boost when Apple unveiled its OS X Yosemite, but not to the level it’s currently experiencing. The museum has had to switch suppliers, as its previous supplier partner couldn’t keep up with demand.
Now, the museum’s marketing team is trying to find its next home run.
“We’re always trying to reinvent the wheel and jump on what’s hot,” Kreider said. “And for a Jewish museum, there aren’t a lot of hot trends and sometimes you have to create them on your own.”
But, if it’s anything like this one, they’ll just get a nice Deus Ex Meme and an existing item will find new relevance and life.