The St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup was a huge boost to the local economy. Despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, there was plenty left on the table.
When the clock finally ticked down to zero on the 2019 Stanely Cup Final and our dreams of the St. Louis Blues hoisting that silver chalice over head were realized, fans generally fell into two categories. There were those that wanted to stay downtown or wherever they were, many of whom got “Brett Hulled” that evening.
Those people wanted to be with the throng of fans just celebrating. The other ones wanted to celebrate in a more visual way, by having their Stanley Cup merchandise in hand and available to wear the next day or by the time the parade happened.
Many of them achieved that goal. Colleen Schrappen did an excellent piece detailing some of the better stories about local businesses getting swept up in the financial boon of a championship team.
She talked about how some stores were not even in the business of selling professional sports merchandise still got in on it because their own customer base was thirsty for it. Schrappen talked to store owners that were detailing how orders would come in for the morning and “would be gone by 1 p.m.” according to Nancy McGee, owner of Fun in the Sun Sports.
However, while that is good for those businesses, there was also a lot of money left on the table. Whether it was poor management on distributors or retailers, the fact is there were a lot of fans that went home unhappy.
One national retailer had a line stretched out a good 200 yards across their parking lot the night the Blues won. Perhaps half, or less, of those people got anything because the demand was not anticipated. Everything was sold out within 45 minutes. That store made over $25,000 in that 45 minutes – I know, because I work for this company, which is why they remain nameless – but they could have doubled that if they had the merchandise in store.
In that same store, the corporate representative was said to have had their jaw on the floor by the amount of people wanting to come in. However, instead of quadrupling future orders or maybe even more than that, they might have doubled the next one – at most.
So, when the next shipment came in, it was also gone within two hours. The first shipment only included 300 hats. Those were gone in 30 minutes.
This store was not alone either. The other national sports retailer did have bigger initial stock, but also sold out. So, was it an issue with the manufacturer or the people in charge of orders? Nobody will ever really know.
What we do know is that someone, somewhere woefully underestimated the demand Blues fans were going to have for championship merchandise. According to Schrappen’s article, Fanatics said Blues fans set an NHL record for the most merchandise purchased in that initial 12-hour period following the win.
That’s great, but it might have been a record never touched for 20 years if the stuff was available. Hats became the hardest thing to get.
If you did not snag one off those initial orders, you were out of luck. Hats ordered online the night of did not come for a week. If you waited for one to show up in stores and then went online, you were initially told your item might not arrive until the end of July.
Fanatics own website was sold out of Locker Room hats and unable to fill orders with the speed they were coming in.
The aforementioned store above went two whole days without merchandise of any kind to sell because of poor planning on one side or the other. Eventually more championship shirts came in, but the buzz had died down.
Fans are still hungry for stuff, but they do not NEED it the way they did. Now, these stores will have to wait until the 2019-20 season or even the holidays to get those items off the racks.
There is also the curious case of the Stanley Cup polos. We know they exist. We have seen them at the parade on some of the coaches and staff. They have popped up on the personages of random fans around the area.
A quick Google search will reveal nothing. Go to ShopNHL and the only polos are plain. RallyHouse is cancelling orders made for championship polos placed during the initial craze.
The issue there is there is no reasoning, no information. Did the manufacturer make the logo wrong or not have a proper license? Did they underestimate the demand again, causing more backups?
Not knowing is part of the problem here. Fans just want to know when they can get something, even if they have to wait.
Forcing people to wait in lines to come up empty handed or making them call 10 stores to see if new orders arrived or cancelling orders out of nowhere takes some of the fun out of it. We all know we have likely spent more money than some of us should or some can really afford, but we did it to celebrate what might be a once in a lifetime event.
Nobody knows if the Blues will win in 2020 or not again for another 50 years. We wanted to take part in that celebration.
That’s why 400,000-plus fans packed downtown to see players drunkenly walk the streets and curse on stage. That’s why, despite what most would have assumed as the majority of Blues fans were downtown at watch parties, the rest of the viewing public in St. Louis still set ratings records for Game 7.
Fans just wanted their own piece of that glory to hold on to. Many of them got it. Most fans are pretty happy with their hauls.
However, there is just a small taint to it. When you don’t know the reasoning behind these things, it is hard not to fall back on our disrespect tropes.
We always feel like second-class citizens with NBC announcers. Blues fans sometimes feel second class to their baseball neighbors.
It is hard to imagine these distributors or retailers making the same mistakes for the Cardinals. It is hard to imagine anyone having to wait weeks for their things to arrive if the items were already produced and not special order.
So, when things don’t go the same for the Blues, it is hard not to take notice. First world problems, I suppose.