Touchstone Story #94–The Lions Store
Need a gavel or a gong for the weekly club meeting? Looking for golf balls, tees, towels, ball markers, shirts, sweaters and visors for that big fundraising tournament coming up? How about a cast aluminum grave marker to proclaim your Lions loyalty through the ages?
These are just a few of the 1,300 Lions-themed products available online or in the glossy, full-color pages of the Lions Club Supplies catalogue, better known as the Lions Store. And if a member can’t find something, a phone call or e-mail to the store’s member services staff can quickly fill the bill.
“Nothing is out of the ordinary,” said Nicolette Donofrio, longtime manager of the Club Supplies sales department at Lions Clubs International headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, USA. “If a Lion wants it, we’ll find it. We never turn down a sale.”
The Lions Store has been in business in various forms since Lions Clubs International was founded in 1917. Early issues of LION Magazine carried ads for club stationery and engraved printing plates to promote consistent use of the Lions emblem. Other ads featured products that showcased Lions’ pride, like desktop lion figurines and pen-and-ink sets.
According to Club Supplies sales department records, the first stand-alone catalogue appeared in print in the early 1930s and has been a time-tested vehicle for Lions product offerings ever since. Today the catalogue has a print run of 40,000 copies. The catalogues are mailed to nearly every Lions district and club around the world.
The online Lions Store opened in 1999 and has gone through several major upgrades to enhance Lions’ online shopping experience. The product mix is constantly changing. About 20 to 30 promising new items are added to the Lions Store each year, as older or less popular products are removed. In 2015, Lions introduced product lines themed to the 100th Anniversary in 2017.
Merchandise ships directly from inventory at Oak Brook or from satellite fulfillment centers in Helsinki, Finland, and Tokyo, Japan. Other points of distribution include Lions’ multiple district offices around the world.
The Lions New Member Kit is the most requested item with more than 85,000 kits shipped annually, followed closely by the Perfect Attendance Award. Other bestsellers include lapel pins, vests, pens, nametags, caps and banners.
Looking through old catalogues opens windows into Lions history. Some items are gone forever, like the Goat Medal, which members were enjoined to wear until they recruited a new club member. And those cast aluminum grave markers? Thirty-four forever loyal Lions each bought one in 2014, an average sales year.
The Lions Store has something for everyone.
Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!