Omaha, Neb. – Tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have traveled to this Midwestern city to hear Warren Buffett lead the company’s annual meeting but also to take part in annual rituals like the 5K walk/run, the steak dinner, and the bargain underwear shopping.
“Everybody needs clean underwear,” said Carol Anglen, a 76-year-old woman from Omaha who has been a shareholder for 20 years.
Anglen was one of hundreds of people lined up next to the Fruit of the Loom booth in the CenturyLink Center, the exhibition space where Berkshire’s subsidiaries ply their wares to Buffett fans.
Nearby, Dairy Queen is offering ice cream bars, and insurance giant Geico and private plane operator NetJets also have booths. But Fruit of the Loom’s is by far the most popular.
Shareholders can buy underwear there for as little as $6. “The price is right,” said Mike Hebel, a 74-year-old man from San Francisco who has been a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder for 25 years. “I can get underwear here for about a third of the prices I find in San Francisco.”
John Shivel, vice president of corporate events at Fruit of the Loom, told CNBC the company has “no idea” how many people stop by the exhibit every year, but noted they have devised a system in which the line moves quickly “and people can shop.”
To be sure, the exhibit also sells sporting goods from its Spalding brand, including basketballs and hoops. It also sells bags and shirts.
Berkshire Hathaway bought Fruit of the Loom for $835 million nearly 20 years ago. However, the underwear company has been mired by declining earnings recently. In late 2017, Fruit of the Loom announced it was launching a subscription service in which customers can order garments for 30 percent less.