Robertson Family West Monroe Louisiana, Forget the ZZ Top beards and the Bayou accents, the Robertsons of West Monroe, La., are a family of traditional American entrepreneurs: ambitious, rich and spectacularly successful.
Willie and Korie Robertson at Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting. The retailer carries “Duck Dynasty” merchandise in six separate departments.
And that was true even before they were television stars.
They certainly are stars now – the subjects of the biggest reality show hit in the history of cable television, “Duck Dynasty,” which has shattered ratings records this summer, reaching a high of 11.8 million viewers for the season premiere this month.
But in the more contained world of ducks, guns and camouflage gear, the Robertsons were already celebrities thanks to the family’s core business: sales of duck gear, especially duck calls.
Now the range of merchandise attached to the Robertson name is so vast – shirts, caps, coolers, books, edibles, hunting gear of every kind – that keeping track of it has become almost impossible, said Willie Robertson, scion of the Robertson clan and president of the Duck Commander company.
Last week, he was at the corporate headquarters of Walmart and was surprised to see his face on a garden gnome. “I knew I had a Chia Pet and a bobblehead and an action figure,” Mr. Robertson said by phone. “I didn’t know I had a garden gnome. That’s awesome. I guess Pez dispenser is the last weird thing I have to see myself on.”
Chances are that pitch will come shortly. “Every day I get pitched on this, pitched on that,” Mr. Robertson said. “It’s like you’re living in a movie.”
That movie is mostly a creation of Mr. Robertson and his family, a conscious dive into the entertainment world that has lifted a regional business into an international phenomenon. The show is seen in more than 100 countries, drawing strong ratings on networks from England to Latin America.
The show does well across this country, though as might be expected, it fares best in the South, with Atlanta, Knoxville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., among the top locations in ratings.
“I thought we were booming before,” Mr. Robertson said. “Booming is a relative term.”