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Boosting Your Martial Arts School’s Income With Merchandise Sales

By Christopher Caile

If you are running a martial arts school, you can boost your bottom line by as much as twenty percent by selling merchandise to your students. If you are currently selling merchandise to your students, there is probably more that you can do.

If you are a large school with a desk that is staffed, your sales effort can be coordinated through your staff personnel. Some larger schools enjoy two, three or even four thousand dollars of extra sales monthly. If you are small, however, sales might be much more personal – through you. And of course, your extra income will be more modest.

What you sell, or can sell, of course is often closely bound to the art you teach and style and/or its organization.

Let’s look at the range of possible sales merchandise.

Merchandise that is directly related to your school, organization and art:

  1. Uniforms. Some schools standardize them and act as their students’ exclusive supplier. This is often difficult to enforce or resented by students, however, and in many schools students are encouraged to buy from the school, but are not required to do so.

  2. School, organization or association patches – those for uniforms, or others to be worn on blazers or suit jackets.

  3. Belts or sashes, especially those embroidered with the school or organization name, logos, characters, symbols or other identifying information.

  4. School, style or organization syllabuses or manuals.

  5. Protective equipment. Some schools have selected particular equipment or a brand of equipment for their students. If you do this, it is easier to promote sales of such products through your school. How and when you sell this equipment depends, of course, on when your students start free fighting. Even if free fighting is delayed until a specified belt level, many schools sell the protective equipment progressively. That means selling gloves at a lower level (when, for example, they start basic two person drills using their hands), foot protectors at another level and other equipment when the students are actually ready to start their practice fighting. Special discounts may be offered to those who buy it all up front.

Additional promotional products or services:

  1. Books or videos related to your students’ study. Also, other books related to martial arts, your art, Zen, history or your studies.

  2. School or organization buttonhole pins.

  3. Tee shirts, sweat suits, and other clothing bearing school logos or designs. Special editions can be created to that commemorate tournaments, special occasions and other events. Some schools regularly produce these items and students collect them.

  4. Special higher priced jewelry, key chains or insignia pins that can be reproduced in various metals, including silver and gold.

  5. Bottled water, soft drinks, juices, power bars and snacks.

  6. Special seminars, clinics, training practices, black belt dinners, and other events. While these activities actually comprise another area of generating school income, they can be sold and promoted through you or the front desk.

Display And Merchandizing Of Your Product

The more students see and know about what is offered for sale, the more likely they are to purchase. It’s up to you to let them know what is available and make it attractive. Be creative. At a minimum, your product should be promoted through one or more ways. Your merchandise can be displayed through:

  • Attractive cases

  • Wall mounts or displays

  • Fliers, or even mini-catalogues given to students

  • Advertisements in e-mails, in school or organization newsletters, and tournament or special event souvenir programs

  • These products can also be sold at special events, seminars, or tournaments

  • Announcements in class or after class

  • Being worn by teachers and staff. This especially pertains to tee shirts and other wearable merchandize.

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About the Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of He has been a student of the martial arts for over 43 years. He first started in judo. Then he added karate as a student of Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and then hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama and later in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th degree black belt in that organization's honbu dojo. Other experience includes judo, aikido, diato-ryu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto Muso-ryu jodo, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including Praying mantis, Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) and shuai chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from American University in Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively through South and Southeast Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and Okinawa to continue his studies in the martial arts, their history and tradition. In his professional life he has been a businessman, newspaper journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

business, business and the martial arts, martial arts, martial arts products, martial arts schools

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