Remember how I told you to expect a steady stream of “Nationals this/that/other is up by XX percent” items in this space? Here’s the second installment this week.
Nats Park in-stadium merchandise sales are up more than 60 percent year to year, according to the team’s COO, Andy Feffer.
Part of this, of course, is that more people are in the stadium, with attendance up something like 30 percent since this point in 2011. But “more than 60 percent” is a lot higher than that, so there clearly are additional factors causing merchandise sales to skyrocket.
Bryce Harper, for one. The three leading names for in-stadium jersey sales are Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman, which means a lot of people are investing in a jersey that wasn’t previously available.
They’re “iconic players,” Feffer said. “People follow Strasburg and Harper. Kids really connect with Harper. Having those two players, along with the rest of our guys, has really helped to increase merchandise sales.”
Then there’s just the regular old excitement that comes with having a first place, playoff-contending team.
“Affinity for the brand,” Feffer called it. “You’re seeing more Curly W caps than ever around town. It’s kind of ubiquitous now throughout the area. The Nationals are cool now, and everyone’s wearing the gear.”
Maybe it’s because I recently moved to a new part of town, but I would unequivocally say that I’ve seen more Nats stuff on kids in the past month than in any other month since 2005. It happens every single day. That’s probably not scientific, I realize.
Also, Feffer cited the team’s new partnership with Gameday Merchandising, which took over the in-stadium merchandise operation in the offseason.
Among the changes, Gameday renovated the store locations “to give them a hip, cool new look,” overhauled the main center field gate store (which won’t be completely done until after the All-Star break), and stocked more women’s and children’s items throughout the park. In fact, the biggest growth in in-stadium merchandise sales has come in the women’s category, followed by kids.
The team also became the first Major League Baseball team to create a New Era walk-in store on the main concourse. The 40-by-40 foot location, which abuts seats on the first base line, is the most successful in-stadium merchandise location after the main team store and the home-plate location, Feffer said.
(No one is ever allowed to accuse me of being too negative toward local teams again, by the way.)