SBJ/July 14-20, 2014/In Depth

Product mix has licensees bullish on merch sales

At 18,000 square feet, the MLB Clubhouse Store at this year’s All-Star Game FanFest is easily the largest ever. The expectations of MLB licensing chief Howard Smith are also sizable.

“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t set records, because the amount of product and its quality is better than ever,” said Smith, a 16-year MLB veteran.

MLB Clubhouse features store-within-store concepts from larger licensees, including New Era, Nike, Majestic and ’47 Brand, and expanded women’s and kids departments.

New this year are team-specific All-Star Game caps from New Era, inspired by the Minnesota Twins’ 1960s batting helmets, which will be worn by all players. Lids has been featuring the product nationally.

Nike has the majority of the All-Star Game starters in its camp, so it’s using the opportunity to launch more products than usual, including the Tim Salmon signature shoe.

To commemorate the last All-Star Game appearance of Derek Jeter, Nike is breaking a goodbye ad Monday in
tribute to the New York Yankees shortstop. The ad includes a slew of cameo testimonials from the likes of Michael Jordan, Joe Torre, Mariano Rivera and other MLBers, along with New York police and firefighters, and entertainers, including Billy Crystal.

With a Majestic store within the Twins’ home ballpark and longtime customers like Target, Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods firmly established in the local market, VF Corp. expects solid sales.

Jim Pisani, president of VF’s licensed sports group, noted that his Majestic brand will be offering retailers the choice of more than 100 All-Star Game-themed designs on its products.

Not to be outdone, hard-goods licensee WinCraft is selling more than 100 designs of All-Star pins and running three official pin-trading centers.

“We keep building that pin program, and it drives a lot of consumer conversation, but since the game is in our hometown, we have big expectations,” WinCraft President John Killen said.

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