Navigator News

Mar 9, 2016

What Do You Do All Year?


Lisa Mulder, Merchandise Manager

Lisa Mulder, AIBF Merchandise Manager

Did you know that the Balloon Fiesta staff begins to prepare for the next event before the current event has finished?  Below is a look at some of the projects run by the AIBF Merchandise Manager, Lisa Mulder.

The AIBF Merchandise Manager is responsible for the gift shop, two official Balloon Fiesta merchandise tents (at the north and south ends of the fields), the Gondola Club gift shop, and Music Fiesta, Pilot Pavilion and Sponsor Hospitality merchandise sales. She also coordinates calendar and program sales, and the service groups who operate those areas. Additionally, Lisa works closely with the AIBF licensed sportswear provider. 

The most time-consuming project is the design and creation of the almost 50 official Balloon Fiesta pins! The process begins a year in advance when the pin manufacturer brings next year’s designs to the current event.  Lisa then coordinates all 50 designs to fit the event theme.

Once the designs are finalized, she places the orders to be delivered by early June. They are received in our warehouse, sorted, counted and tagged, then available for sale in late June.

Lisa also receives poster submissions in November. Allowing until mid-January for submissions, Lisa and the merchandise committee select that year’s poster art. She then works with a graphic artist to lay out the poster, then posters are ordered in March. But her work doesn’t stop once the posters are received. She then hand-numbers each one. In May, the poster artist signs 400 of the 1200 posters, all of which are then rolled and sorted, taking a team of 5 Navigators a full week to complete.

Lisa then jumps into preparing for Balloon Fiesta’s annual December sale by gathering inventory, marking down prices, tagging items, and setting up the room and merchandise. This sale is a great time to buy dated products at great prices, as well as other discontinued items.

Next up is the following year’s official Balloon Fiesta calendar. AIBF’s photographers submit their photos by mid-November. Lisa reviews each and every one of over 6,000 photos to pick the top 50-60. In January, she and the calendar committee select the top 15 to appear in the calendar. The photos are sent to the printing company and the layout and design is determined. Lisa orders up to 90,000 calendars for delivery in July.

Also in December, Lisa begins selection and design of jackets and shirts for pilots, sponsors and Navigators.  Because over 2,200 jackets and 1,200 shirts are needed, Lisa works with design companies both inside and out of the U.S. to get exactly the design and price point she’s looking for.

While designing the jackets, Lisa works on the theme artwork for the jacket backs. She also collects jacket sizes and quantities from the various teams. Samples of the jackets arrive in February or March, the order is placed at the beginning of April and delivered by early September. Upon arrival, the clothing is sorted, organized and delivered to the various groups.

Many design aspects of Lisa’s projects also involve the Balloon Fiesta presenting sponsor, Canon. Their logo is included in much of the AIBF artwork, so their corporate offices review our designs to ensure that we meet their strict style guidelines.

By July, most Balloon Fiesta merchandise is in stock and Lisa’s Navigators organize and sort it for the 6 sales locations. Her team of 16 Navigators help year-round, and she hires 2 full-time and 2 part-time seasonal employees who help in the gift shop and with all merchandise management.

Lisa fills the rest of her year traveling to trade shows, meeting with vendors and sourcing product for the many areas and teams that need AIBF merchandise, as well as filling the constant flow of orders from www.balloonfiestastuff.com.

You can contact Lisa at or (505) 821-1000, ext. 105.

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