Miniature Orangemen – built using Lego-style parts – are proving to be one of the most popular selling items in the lead up to the Twelfth.
David Scott, who helps to run the shop at the Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House in east Belfast, said: “They’re marching out the door – literally. They’re selling like hot cakes.”
The mini figures – complete with orange sash and black bowler hat – are built using Nanoblocks, a brick-building technology similar to that of Lego.
Mr Scott, service and outreach officer with the Orange Order and a member of Drumlough Heroes LOL 153, said: “We sourced them from a local fella who makes them as part of a home industry.
“We spotted him at Balmoral Show this year.
“The frame with the Orangeman marching down the Dark Hedges caught my eye.
“When I went to see him he had a full range of the Orangemen made from Nanoblocks – badges, keyrings, figures, frames.
“There is one with a flag that is bespoke to us. He’s called ‘Billy on parade’.
“He’s also done a frame for us with an Orangeman and a calendar as a backdrop. It says on it ‘I can’t wait to March’.”
The miniature Orangemen cost £4 each as a figure, badge or keyring.
The framed version of the Orange Order mini figures – measuring 25 centimetres by 25 centimetres – with a backdrop of either the Dark Hedges or a calendar cost £20 each.
Mr Scott added: “The shop has always been part of the Grand Lodge but it’s been extended extensively since the museum was here in 2015. That’s allowed us to explore more products.
“We sell a lot of stuff online but the great thing is we’ve got footfall here too – not just members but the general public and international tourists.
“There has to be broad appeal of things that people can take home as souvenirs and presents.
“One of the key things for souvenirs is having items that can be easily wrapped and transported.”
David said another big seller this summer were Orange-branded sunglasses: “They did very well at Balmoral Show. It helps the good weather we’re having.
“We’ve also got Orange Feet lollies produced by Aunt Sandra’s (Candy Factory) on Castlereagh Road.
“As much as we possibly can, we try to source things locally.”
Other popular items in the shop are Orange-branded socks with proceeds going towards the Drew Nelson Legacy Project and a Twelfth of July greeting card featuring a painting of an Orange parade on Lisburn Road in 1990s.
Mr Scott added: “Ties are a big thing for us. They’re the most popular for our membership. Our leisurewear is another of the big sellers as well. We’ve got a Service and Sacrifice military style T-shirt, using a logo that was designed for an Armistice exhibition, which are ideal to wear under a bandsman’s tunic.”
During his recent visit to Schomberg House, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was given a custom-made obelisk – at the top end of the items for sale at Schomberg House.
Another of the items sold in the shop – a ladies silk scarf featuring a lily and poppy design – was worn recently by DUP leader Arlene Foster at a Battle of the Boyne event in Cowdenbeath, Scotland.