The Great Beach Towel Debacle of 2019 - This Kind of Thing Only Happens to Me
The Great Beach Towel Debacle aka Where The Hell Did Those Come From aka How The Hell Do I Get In Touch With Bullet For My Valentine's Management aka The Struggle aka This Took a LOT Longer Than It Should Have............
OK - let me set the scene for you... last year, 2019, in January, the band that I work for, Nonpoint was booked on Shiprocked, the annual week-long party on the water with bands and a very dedicated group of fans. As a special item, we had a beach towel made up, to serve as the guy's merch item featured during the cruise. We did preorders, which I (with the help of my awesome wife) packed up and shipped out from here (Illinois) a couple weeks before the cruise (about 200), and the rest were taken on the cruise with them.
I got the rest of the towels to the guys, and off they went to Houston. The cruise departed from there and returned four or five days later, everyone returned to land, got on airplanes and returned home.
A couple weeks later (in February), an email comes in from the cruise line to the tune of "hey, you guys left four boxes of your merch on the ship." I answer immediately "OK, how can we fix this? What do I need to do?" After a couple days, I'm sent an offloading authorization form, a couple other forms and told "fill these out, send 'em back and we can offload your items." I fill out the forms, return them and in a couple more days, I get a reply: "great! should be all set."
A few days after this, I get another message "OK, forms are good, now we need to get in touch with your customs broker." This left me with questions. Chief among them was "what the hell is a customs broker?" The fact that I didn't know what a customs broker was told me we probably didn't have one. I later confirmed that no, we in fact, don't. I wrote back "hey, I don't know what a customs broker is, or how to get in touch with one, can you help a brother out?" A few days later (are we noticing a pattern yet?) I get another message "well, until you get a customs broker, your items can't be offloaded."
February ends, March comes and goes, April comes and goes, May comes and goes, June comes and goes, still no customs broker... why the hell is this so hard? Also, why the hell is this so complicated? At the end of July (remember, this conversation started in February), I get a new message "here, hit up this guy, he's a customs broker and can help you out." SWEET!! But why four months later? I guess it doesn't matter, we're getting this done (finally).
The customs broker goes on..... vacation. A week later, a different customs broker from that agency writes me "hey man... are you looking for a customs broker?" "Good God, YES!" He sends me a.......a......a......form. "Fill this out, I'll take care of the rest!" After I calm down and my head stops shaking, I fill out the form (a simple authorization form) and a couple days later (it's August like...20th now) I get a new message: "Your items have been successfully offloaded from the ship. Now.... who's gonna pick this stuff up? Oh, and the ship is in New Orleans now." (the ship was still active and had operated several voyages between February and then with our stuff still stowed within.
As luck would have it, Nonpoint's tour w/ HELLYEAH had just ended, and our wonderful TM/LD/Merch Wizard Ali lives in Louisiana, not far from New Orleans. She took a trip down there, picked up the four boxes and went to UPS and sent them to me.
I'm over the freaking moon at this point. Remember, it's August, and it's SIX full months since this all began, and now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. AND Nonpoint has a show, a big show on August 31st in Madison, WI at the Taste of Madison. I think "this is PERFECT. I'll take them up there with me (I was selling merch at the event with my assistant Jeremy), and we'll sell them all there!"
When I get the boxes at my house, I'm so excited, I make a facebook live video in my Nonpoint fan group "LOOK WHAT I GOT!!!! SIX MONTHS!!!! COME BUY ONE ON SATURDAY!!!!!!" I opened a box live and showed it off, I was so happy, I damn near wept. I was so happy this was finally over.
The Taste of Madison comes and goes. We sell two boxes of the towels, so we have two left. That's OK, Nonpoint has another tour booked for September/October, and they'll get sold then.
A couple days before the guys are set to leave for tour, they're set up at a place to practice, go through the set, work on the lighting etc. The place they've found is an auto mechanic's garage. So there's car parts strewn about, cars up on the hydraulic lifts, and Nonpoint, set up and jamming out. The crew is around, making tweaks, changing strings, tuning up, taping up drumsticks, everything. During a break, I'm told to go into the trailer, into our merch and grab a few shirts, maybe a hoodie or whatever I can find to give to the guy who's garage this is, as a "thank you" for letting us set up and use his place for a couple days.
I'm in the trailer, I have three or four shirts and a hoodie, then I see it... the box. "A towel." I think. "I'll give him one of the beach towels! These things are awesome, who wouldn't want one of these?" I open up the box and grab one, but I notice this doesn't feel like a beach towel, it feels like.....another shirt.
I pull it out and confirm, it's another shirt. My initial thought was "we didn't have shirts on Shiprocked..." I look at the shirt, and go "Bullet for my Valentine??" They gave us another band's stuff!!! I look through the box, and I find two different Bullet for my Valentine shirts.
I grab the box and take it back inside the garage, and I show the band and crew. One guy says "where the hell did those come from?" I recount the story (yes, again) for everyone, it's beginning to feel like a standup bit at this point, as I've told the story numerous times, and now, it's gotten weirder. I tell the band and crew "I'm going to take this box with me, and I'll figure out how to get it back to Bullet for my Valentine."
Up to this point, I'd heard of Bullet for my Valentine, but I don't think I'd actually heard any of their songs, needless to say, I'm not familiar with them. I think "it'd be funny as hell if I just show up to one of their gigs clutching this big box of shirts, all 'hey guys...what's up??!!' " but a check of their upcoming tour dates showed no dates in my area, state, country, even continent... so that was out. Then I notice on their facebook page, they have EIGHT MILLION likes, so the chances of me just wandering into one of their gigs randomly with merch is probably pretty slim.
I do a little digging online and I don't come up with the name of their manager, but I do come up with the name of their management company. I notice it has offices in the US as well as in the UK. I think I was able to determine Bullet for my Valentine are Welsh, so I decide to email both offices and I figured the one who handles them and their business will get back to me.
So I compose arguably the strangest email I've ever had to write, with all the waiting, the "you need this" "you still need that" the process, the ins, the outs, the waiting, the happiness, the waiting, then this... and I finish up with "sorry this is so damn weird."
Someone from their management team writes me back "hey man, no one from BFMVs crew or their TM reported any merch was left, so we didn't even know about this until today, so thank you for your honesty." We talked a little more and eventually they sent me a prepaid shipping label from UPS. I printed it out, slapped it on the box, and took it to UPS...thus concluding my part in the Great Beach Towel Debacle of 2019. The remainder of the beach towels were sold, BFMV got their stuff back, and I had peace of mind that I did a good job, it just took a LONG time.
SEVEN entire months... good times.