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Fastbreak Sports owner Bob Malina unloads a shipment of apparel following the Super Bowl victory of the Kansas City Chiefs.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
Fastbreak Sports owner Bob Malina unloads a shipment of apparel following the Super Bowl victory of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Chiefs Kingdom stores hustle to stock Super Bowl goods

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In the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs’ first Super Bowl victory in 50 years, sporting goods retailers are seeking to win the business of fans chasing commemorative merchandise.

While some Springfield stores had Chiefs apparel ready to sell immediately after the team’s 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers, officials say the supplies quickly disappeared. Other local retailers had to wait a few days before getting their hands on the Super Bowl memorabilia.

Academy Sports and Rally House both reopened shortly after the Chiefs’ Feb. 2 win as fans lined up outside ready to purchase the newly unboxed T-shirts and hats.

Local retailers say seeing Chiefs supporters in a merchandise-buying mood has been a typical sight over the past few weeks as the team marched through the playoffs. As a result, some stores are experiencing a post-Christmas sales boost.

“It’s been really, really strong. Our sales were doubled – a big part of that is to the Chiefs,” said Fastbreak Sports owner Bob Malina of his store’s year-over-year increase last month from January 2019.

Malina also projects year-over-year sales to double for February, though he declined to disclose financials. The day after the Chiefs’ win, he said his store was expecting its first shipment of Super Bowl championship gear later in the week. Customer inquiries about supplies were coming in the day after the Super Bowl “every couple of minutes,” he said.

“There’s a huge demand on some of that,” he said, adding he expected to receive a variety of clothing and dozens of novelty items, such as pennants, keychains and can koozies.

Short supply
Noting Fastbreak Sports is a smaller local retailer as opposed to a big box chain, Malina said he doesn’t get overnight shipments.

It was a similar situation for On the Ball Sports Inc., which has stores at Battlefield Mall and Branson Landing. Super Bowl championship merchandise wasn’t on hand the day after the event, said employee Jake Miller. He said Chiefs products of any kind were in short supply at the Battlefield Mall shop by Feb. 2.

“We sold out right before the game kicked off,” he said.

Chiefs’ sales are pretty consistent throughout the year, Miller said, noting the Kansas City team and St. Louis Cardinals are the stores’ biggest sellers. He deferred questions about sales numbers to owner Jeff Chamberlin, who was unavailable for comment by press time.

He said Chamberlin preordered Chiefs’ Super Bowl merchandise, including six styles of T-shirts, hats and novelty items.

“If they put a logo on it, he ordered it,” Miller said of Chamberlin. “He ordered some of everything, basically. You just never know what will be popular.”

With more than 40 stores in nine states, Lenexa, Kansas-based Rally House had product on hand at its Springfield shop right after the game, said Carrie Martin, a manager in training.

The store reopened when the game ended shortly after 9 p.m. The Super Bowl T-shirts, hats and stocking caps didn’t last long once customers were let inside, she said. Around 120 shirts and 70 hats and stocking caps were sold.

“We got them in and they went at it,” she said, declining to disclose Rally House sales figures. “It was gone in 20 minutes.”

Both Martin and Malina say merchandise featuring Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is in short supply in their stores. Martin said the store briefly had Mahomes’ Super Bowl jerseys at the end of January.

“They went as quick as we got them in,” she said. “We have a stack of notes to call customers as soon as we get more in.”

At Fastbreak Sports, Malina said Mahomes’ trading cards are hard to keep in stock. The day after the win, he sold a Mahomes rookie card for $75 and an autographed card for $350.

“I probably sold that one cheaper than I could have now that he’s won the Super Bowl,” he said, noting he priced it prior to the game.

Hot commodity
Mahomes’ popularity has spread across the country, as well.

NFL-identified merchandise featuring Mahomes outsold that of any other player in the league between March 1 and Nov. 30, 2019, according to the NFL Players Association. The union group expects the Chiefs quarterback will remain at the top upon release of the entire year’s figures.

The NFLPA tracks sales of more than 75 licensees producing items, including apparel, bobbleheads and video games. That figure exceeded $1.6 billion in 2018 – a fifth-straight year of record sales, according to the association. Of that, roughly $90 million of the royalties are split between the union and a pool, which is shared among players.

The NFLPA numbers are part of a global licensed sports merchandise market valued at nearly $26.5 billion in 2018, according to market research firm Statista. The value is forecasted to reach $34 billion by 2023.

Even though the NFL season has concluded, Martin said Chiefs merchandise should remain in high demand for the foreseeable future.

New product shipments come in daily at Rally House, but she said customers should call ahead to be sure Super Bowl-related product is available.

“I never realized how much people love their sports memorabilia,” she said. “Especially when it’s been 50 years to wait.”

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