In a long career which saw him rise through the ranks of Disney Merchandising, Barton K. “Bo” Boyd went from stocking the shelves of boutiques on Main Street, U.S.A. to operating hundreds of Disney retail outlets across the world. His many ideas and initiatives led to countless products and mementos that line the shelves of Disney fans to this day.
Born on December 6, 1942, in Santa Ana, California, Bo grew up not far from the Happiest Place on Earth, joining Disney on February 14, 1968 as an assistant supervisor in Merchandise at Disneyland. He was responsible for all Main Street, U.S.A. gift shops and retail spaces: the China Closet, the Camera Center, the Magic Shop, and even the much-photographed Flower Mart. Six months later, Bo moved down the street to assume supervisor duties at the Emporium, which at that time operated independently. Soon thereafter, he was promoted again, this time joining the team creating merchandise specifically for Disneyland. This laid the groundwork for a cross-country transfer to Florida in early 1971 to prepare for the opening of Walt Disney World.
On site in Florida, Bo put together a merchandising organization for the new Park similar to what he had done in California, recruiting from up and down the East Coast and designing and developing unique merchandise that would be ready to go on opening day—then just a few short months away. Soon, he was promoted to director, Merchandise Division; in 1976 he relocated back to California, where he assumed the role of vice president, Retail Merchandising, and established a central buying office for both Parks.
In 1983, Bo was asked to run a new division, Disney Consumer Products, while at the same time retaining his theme park merchandise duties. “It soon became apparent it was going to be too much to stay on top of parks retailing while making the Consumer Products business grow,” he recalled. “So I took theme park merchandising out of Burbank and relocated it back to the parks where it belongs.”
Over the ensuing years, Bo oversaw one of the longest periods of sustained growth in Disney merchandising history, with initiatives such as Licensed Merchandise, Walt Disney Records, and, in Publishing, the start of Hyperion Press and a line of Disney magazine products. On the retail side, there were the far-flung departments of the Disney Catalog, Disney Interactive for computer games and educational software, ESPN—The Store, and the Walt Disney Classics Collection, a fan-favorite division that celebrated classic Disney animated films. The granddaddy of them all, however, was the establishment of the first Disney Store outside the grounds of the theme parks. The first store opened in Glendale, California, in 1987, and Bo grew that innovative business in 10 years to more than 600 stores in the United States and in eight foreign countries.
Bo was named chairman of Disney Consumer Products in 1997.
He retired in 2001, 33 years to the day he walked down Main Street, U.S.A. for his first job at Disneyland. He had been involved with Disney merchandise longer than any person in the history of the Company other than Walt’s brother Roy O. Disney.
Bo passed away April 13, 2011, at his home in Mesquite, Nevada.