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Unlike the Occasional Train, CTA Merch Sales Aren't On Fire

By Olivia Leigh in Miscellaneous on Nov 9, 2006 3:40PM

If you’re one of those plan-ahead types of people who get started on holiday shopping long before Black Friday, you may want to consider all of the merchandise our beloved Chicago Transit Authority has to offer.

If our gift recommendation has you wondering what in the world we’re talking about, you’re probably not alone. Despite providing more than one million rides a day, the CTA only managed to scrape up $20,000 in merchandise sales, of which “directional cards” (maps of the entire system of individual lines) comprised $12,197.

In order to boost sales, the cash-strapped CTA hopes to hire an independent firm to handle marketing and boost sales of the merchandise, which is currently sold online and at its downtown headquarters.

While we don’t expect the CTA to offer the snazziest clothes in town, we do think their items – especially their clothes – would be well-served by a style intervention. Last we checked, Will Smith duds circa 1990 weren’t flying off the shelves. At least get rid of the Print Shop-esque font styles, and get your models out of those mom jeans.

Indeed, the CTA would decidedly be well-served by taking a few cues from the bright, bold London Underground merch, which was quite popular with friends and family when we were studying in the UK a few years ago. Even the NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority has some cute items.

Despite our criticism, we will give a slight stamp of approval to the CTA shower curtain, already hanging in the bathrooms of some Chicagoist staff members; Map Wrapped Writing Set, made from recycled topographical maps; and the umbrella-cum-map.

If none of these items tickle your fancy, you can always take part in the CTA’s bigger money maker – train rentals, which brought in $26,000 in 2005. Train rentals are available for parties and events during non-rush hours for $1,200, and include two rail cars for three hours. While food and music is allowed, sadly, you’ll have to leave that bottle of Bailey’s at home.

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