I cannot believe it's already October - WHERE DID SEPTEMBER GO?!? Oh, that's right, I spent all of September lurking beneath a giant, orange colored tent called the clamshell. Apparently my life is now strictly spent living under the cover of vinyl tents, and to be honest? I really don't mind. If a tent means me slinging cotton, I'll stand out there all day, any day...and that's kind of what I've done for the past five months. As I mentioned in my first post-Warped blog, I've spent September and October working at Red Rocks Amphitheater, selling merchandise for all of the artists that have come through to play the venue from August through the end of the season, which was October 4th. I've worked twenty-six shows (if I counted right), spent countless hours on the sacred, music-filled grounds in Morrison, spent a few nights shooting pool until 2a.m., and I've learned more about merchandising than I can put into words.
If you read my blog post prior to me starting this gig, you know that I was just a little nervous about this new opportunity. New job, new co-workers, new things that I've never done...oh, and did I mention that I'd be helping sell on some nights upwards of $100,000 in merch?! The most I'd ever done myself was maaaybe $5,000, so the idea of doing upwards of even just $50,000 was horrifying. The other scary realization was that I would be the new kid on the team in a big way. All the folks at Red Rocks have been there for at least seven years, if not longer. I'd always heard that it was an "old boys club" running this venue, and here I was somehow smack in the middle of it - I wasn't about to mess this one up. I came into this job wide-eyed, ready for anything, and prepared to have my world rocked. It was definitely not as scary as I thought, but I've still been steam-rolled by the amount of knowledge I've gained...who ever thought selling t-shirts could really have so much to it?! Three-quarter length sleeves are Raglans, no matter the material. There is a proper way to bin your shirts, item number goes left and price goes right, and no matter what anyone says, you will count the trinkets. All of them. Somehow $50,000 doesn't sound intimidating anymore, and 15 boxes of unorganized fabric good isn't as outrageous as it could be. This team has given me tools I didn't even imagine existed, taught me tricks that have been passed down merchie-to-merchie for years, and more than anything, they've given me confidence. If i want to keep moving up in the world of merch and eventually into tour management, I really, truly needed this. No one on the team except me has ever toured (which blew my mind) so there was plenty for me to teach them about being a road dog, but learning how to handle bulk to this extreme has prepared me for every and any situation, regardless of venue, band, or number of shirts for sale...even if it's Drake and Lil' Wayne and we have nearly 50 different designs. (no joke).
Just last month, I did a one-off vend for the merch company that I work for on the side (they're called Sandbag LTD., and I love them. I get to work all sorts of cool shows for them), and I was surprised with a "hey I need you to inventory everything we have" 12hrs prior to the show. I did an inventory on 10 boxes of untouched merch, organized the remaining stuff in the trailer, and still sold $2000 by myself in a matter of 10 hours. It was madness, but the only reason I could do what I did was because of the stuff i'd been handling for the past two months. Red Rocks has prepared me for what I hope will be a tremendous next few years of adventures in touring with bands. I couldn't have ever fathomed how much this job would benefit me, but man am I thankful I took a risk on the gig and joined the team. My co-workers are fantastic, and have been so kind and helpful to me. I didn't think that I could find another work family where I could really be myself the way I was at my last job, but these kids accept me even though i'm the only one who doesn't smoke weed, and put up with my incessant snacking and question asking. As much as I really want to hit the road pretty continually next year, part of me hopes that for the summer, I'll be able to be home and work most of the season with them. If anything, I'll definitely be lonely at my merch booth from here on out no matter where I go.
I am incredibly thankful for the chance I've been given to come up and join this group of pirates. The chance to learn from folks who've seen so many amazing things has been truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and to be learning all of this at such a sacred and magical venue is just surreal. I got to see some amazing bands, meet some amazing road crews, and shake a LOT of hands I wouldn't have otherwise. Apparently taking chances is paying off, and I hope that I can continue to be daring enough to let these experiences keep coming my way. As of now I have no touring plans for the fall (sad face), but I'm getting close. I've had two big chances come my way, but due to some upper management conflicts, I've been caught in the fallout and missed out. I'm hanging on tight to the hope that something will come my way before the year's end, but if not, at least I know now that I'm prepared for whatever it is that I get to do next. I've always known I felt "at home" at Red Rocks, but after the past two months, that statement has an entirely new meaning. I'm just thankful that the magic hasn't warn off yet, and that every time I walk down that ramp and into the venue, the glorious view still takes my breath away.