501st Legion Merchandise Rules and Procedures
Per Article VIII of the 501st Charter, the following rules apply to all 501st Legion merchandise (including Garrison, Squad, Outpost and Detachment material):
1 - Any items bearing the words "501st Legion", "Fighting 501st", "Vader's Fist" or the 501st Logo are considered representative of the 501st Legion club. Such proposed items are to be submitted to the Legion Commander and administrative staff before being produced. The Legion CO, Legion XO, and administrative staff have final word on approval. [Note: In practice, the Legion CO has granted approval powers to the Legion Merchandise Officer]
2 - 501st items must be free of vulgarity.
3 - 501st items must be as free of copyrighted material as possible.
4 - 501st items must be sold only to club members and at cost.
5 - 501st items must not be advertised openly on eBay or other forums to the general public.
6 - 501st items must not be tied to any outside commercial entity or venture.
7 - 501st items must not misrepresent or misidentify its user/wearer in any role other than as a member or supporter of the 501st Legion fan club. No shirt will bear the label 'Security' or 'Staff' unless created with the full permission of an event organizer and labeled specifically for that event only.
8 - 501st items specifying a sub-unit of the club are allowed and encouraged. Such examples would be items promoting 501st Garrisons, Squads, and Detachments. Out of the above eight rules, the one that deserves special note is #4. 501st material should never be sold to non-members of the 501st Legion. The exception to this rule is members of the Rebel Legion, whose status as sister club to the 501st permits sales to those members. The price on any and all merchandise should not exceed the cost of production, distribution, and any transaction fees incurred during the sale of merchandise.
Definition of Merchandise
501st merchandise is defined as any item bearing the name and/or logo of a 501st entity produced for consumption by the Legion membership in quantities of two or more. An individual producing their own business cards, for example, would not be required to seek the approval of the Legion Merchandise Officer. However, if an individual was doing a run of business cards for members of their Garrison, approval should be sought.
Before any merchandise is offered for sale or put into production, approval must first be obtained. This ensures that the charter rules are being followed as well as makes sure a merchandise project does not conflict with another project already under way.
All merchandise must be approved by the Legion Merchandise Officer. To obtain approval, simply email a description of the project, price, time table, and sample artwork. Also indicate if approval has been obtained by other necessary parties, if applicable. If merchandise is related to a Garrison, Squad, Outpost or Detachment, the leaders of the respective group also needs to approve the material. For Squad merchandise, approval should be made by both the Squad Leader and Garrison CO.
Sales of 501st Legion merchandise should only take place in non-public forums and email lists operated by the Legion. Merchandise should not be sold via online public stores, such as Cafe Press, or in any area of a website accessible to the public.
All members of the Legion in good standing are permitted to produce 501st Legion merchandise with the following exceptions:
- Members on disciplinary probation.
- Garrisons, Outposts, Squads and Detachments during their first six months of existence (including any probationary period).
501st Merchandise should not include:
- Copyrighted material that we are not authorized to use.
- References to alcohol or drugs.
- Obscene images or references.
Expectations and Responsibilities
Certain expectations and responsibilities are required of any member producing 501st Legion merchandise. These are:
- Sell merchandise at your cost. Rounding up a little to ensure your expenses are covered is fine, but adding $2 per piece for your time is not permitted. Time is donated when you choose to engage in a merchandise project.
- Don't spend the money before you pay for the merchandise. In the event that a project falls through, you should have the funds on hand to make immediate refunds.
- Communicate regularly with buyers on their order status.
- Deliver a product that is identical to what you offered the membership. If a change needs to be made, notify the members and allow for refunds if anyone does not agree.
- Keep good records of your orders so mistakes are not made. Always double check sizes and quantities before you place a final order.
- Submit a final photo of the product the 501st webmaster for inclusion in the Memorabilia Archive.
Merchandise for Fundraising
The trend of using 501st merchandise to raise money for charity is becoming more and more common. While commendable, we need to remember that we have rules set forth by LFL about how much we can charge for items. The simple rule is that items need to be sold at cost. They didn't give us any exceptions for charity, so adding $5 to the price of a patch isn't an option available to us, nor any other amount. There seems to be confusion over this, since I regularly get requests for merch approval with added charity money to the price. So I wanted to take this opportunity to remind all the Merch Officers.
Not only do we need to keep things at cost to comply with LFL rules, I personally believe we need to keep merchandise accessible to as many members as possible by keeping prices down, too. If we allowed price increases for charity, I could see the a large portion of merchandise being used as fundraisers of some kind. We're a group of enthusiastic fundraisers, for certain, but we need to remember that many people are on tight budgets, so we need to keep merchandise affordable to all for the sake of club enjoyment.
How we've been working charity sales for the Legion the past few years is by selling items at cost and then requesting an optional donation in any amount. If a person chooses to not make a donation, they can still purhase the item. We don't want to shame anyone for not contributing, as it's not our place to judge. I usually describe the donation aspect like, "Donation: XYZ Garrison is raising money to support ABC chairty, so pleaese consider adding an optional donation to your order to help with the cause. $2, $5, $8...any amount will help!"
I think this method works pretty well, and there's no breaking the rules. I've heard from some sellers that they ended up raising more money than if they had just added $2 to the price like they had planned, too.