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Volume 20 No. 42
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Giants’ hot market proves solid, despite Sandy’s best efforts to interfere

Despite an abrupt, four-game sweep and Hurricane Sandy-related supply chain disruptions, the hot market for San Francisco Giants World Series merchandise has drawn essentially even with the one following the club’s 2010 title.

MLB executives and league licensees say the current Giants hot market is comparable to two years ago, when the club won its first World Series since relocating from New York after the 1957 season. The Giants led all 10 MLB playoff teams in sales of caps affixed with postseason logos, despite the presence of dominant brands such as the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals and the arrival of upstarts Baltimore and Washington to October play.

“There were a lot of obstacles on paper sort of against us,” said Howard Smith, MLB senior vice president of licensing. “The sweep, certainly the weather, this being sort of a repeat market, the fact there was basically no time between the end of the NL Championship Series and the start of the [World Series].

VF Majestic trucked gear to Nashville to make its flights.

“But to basically have parity with 2010, what this shows is that San Francisco has developed into a truly top-tier market for us. The fans there have grown very sophisticated. We’re now getting numbers back more or less commensurate with Yankee-type figures.”

The true test of the current Giants merchandise hot market, however, will be its stamina. The 2010 market “just wouldn’t go away and kept going and going,” Smith said. “It was like a cold. But this one’s not done either, and we plan to keep pushing throughout the holidays and into the new year.”

Supplying the rabid San Francisco market with product contained challenges before, during and after the World Series. Game 1 against Detroit on Oct. 24 started a mere 44 hours after the Giants wrapped up the NL pennant against St. Louis. Licensees rush-printed and shipped product after the victory over the Cardinals, some of which was sold straight out of the shipping boxes at AT&T Park during Games 1 and 2 of the World Series.

Then after the World Series victory and the arrival of the storm Oct. 29, apparel licensee VF Majestic trucked gear more than 800 miles from its Easton, Pa., manufacturing plant to Nashville, where it could be safely flown to San Francisco. VF Majestic normally ships gear out of Lehigh Valley, Pa., or Philadelphia, but both of those options, as well as Pittsburgh across the state, quickly vanished as the storm approached and airports closed.

VF Majestic was able to maintain electric power to the manufacturing plant, but more than 70 percent of company employees did not have power to their homes during the initial production run of Giants championship gear.

MLB cap licensee New Era, based in Buffalo, was less affected by Sandy, but similarly rerouted championship merchandise.

San Francisco-area points of purchase were fully stocked in time for the club’s championship parade Oct. 31, even with more labor-intensive, cut-and-sew products such as jackets, sweatshirts and decorated fleece.

“We felt pretty good about being able to serve that championship market in some of the most difficult conditions,” said Jim Pisani, president of the VF Licensed Sports Group.