Tesla set up a pop-up shop just for employees at its Nevada Gigafactory this week, and sold them company swag on the cheap during a series of events it called "Merch Madness."
The stunt helped boost employee morale during a stressful end-of-quarter push, which followed company-wide layoffs and store closures.
CNBC visited the sprawling battery plant during "Merch Madness" and observed lines to rival the opening day of a new "Star Wars" sequel.
Among the items in the employee-only shop were:
- A "Tesla Corporate Jacket," which Tesla sells on its website for $175, but cost employees just $48 during the event
- Tesla caps that sell for around $30 at retail, but cost employees $6
- Items not currently available online, including a Semi Truck tee for $9, leather Corsicana tote bag for $102 and leather touchscreen gloves for $28.
Employees told CNBC they were stocking up on gear they wanted as well as gifts for family and friends. The company store took credit cards only. They get an employee discount year-round but the Merch Madness deals went beyond that, they said, so waiting on line was worth it.
In February 2019, Tesla set up a store to sell its branded apparel and accessories on Amazon.
Increased attention to branded merchandise at Tesla follows success in this arena for another Elon Musk business — The Boring Company sold $10 million worth of its "not-a-flamethrowers" in five days last year, and $1 million in baseball caps.
A spokesperson said that as of the week of March 4, Tesla employed more than 40,000 people. In its 2018 annual report, Tesla said it had 48,817 employees. Tesla has not disclosed exactly how many people it has laid off this year.
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