Stores scramble to stock Seahawks merchandise after team's surprise playoff victories
To attract the 12th Man, Jeff Scoma's five Seattle Team Shop locations took delivery of 5,000 Seahawks shirts and hats this week.
Seattle Times business reporters
Oddsmakers in Vegas aren't giving the Seattle Seahawks much of a chance against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, but that hasn't stopped shopkeeper Jeff Scoma from doubling down on blue-and-green sportswear.
To attract the 12th Man, Scoma's five Seattle Team Shop locations took delivery of 5,000 Seahawks shirts and hats this week.
Sales of Hawks merchandise are up more than 50 times compared with a year ago after Seattle's division-clinching win Jan. 2 over St. Louis and its stunning 41-36 victory Saturday against New Orleans, Scoma said.
"Our Seahawks merchandise had dwindled down to not much of anything after the holidays. The team was doing OK, but not spectacular," he said. "Everything we've brought in the past two weeks had to be next-day-aired."
Stores are scrambling to keep up with a sudden surge of demand for Hawks stuff as Seattle enters round two of the NFL playoffs. Reebok says orders for Seahawks merchandise shot up 700 percent in the first few days after the Saints' surprise ouster, including some that are contingent on Seattle winning the NFC championship, and even the Super Bowl.
"We're working with vendors to get more merchandise, and we'll see what happens Sunday," said Melinda Merrill, spokeswoman for Fred Meyer stores.
And what if Seattle's playoff run ends Sunday?
"People still support their team," Merrill said. "We'll sell through it."
Saturday's defeat of the Saints at Qwest Field gave the Seahawks (8-9) the distinction of being the NFL's first division titleholder with a losing record to win a playoff game by beating the defending Super Bowl champs.
Now, it's on to Chicago, where the 10-point underdogs hope to upset the Bears and advance to the NFC Championship Game Jan. 23.
QFC groceries, which have limited supplies of Seahawks merchandise after selling most of their shirts and hats, will cater to fans over the weekend with large platters of chicken wings, vegetables, and cakes colored green, blue and gray, said spokesman Eric Miller.
For some stores, a resurgent Seahawks Nation offers a nice break from the usual post-Christmas shopping lull.
Sue Harris, retail director for the Hawks, said the team's late-season success translates to a 75 percent sales increase over a typical January without a playoff berth. The team has a Pro Shop at Qwest Field and another at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle.
"We've been extremely busy," Harris said. "We went right from the holidays to the game on the second when we clinched our playoff spot. It was great timing."
At NFLshop.com, sales of Seahawks merchandise are up a whopping 360 percent compared with a year ago, when the team sat out of postseason play, said league spokeswoman Joanna Hunter. Top sellers include hats and shirts commemorating the Hawks' run as the 2010 NFC West champions. "As long as your team is alive and you have hope, you're going to be looking to show your support," she said.
Oddly enough, Seattle's dismal performance in 2008 and 2009 means more demand for Hawks merchandise now that the team is doing well; unlike in Pittsburgh or New England, postseason play is not a given in Seattle.
"The more time that passes between the last year you made the playoffs or won a Wild Card game factors in to how excited your fans are and how much new apparel they want," Hunter said.
Scoma, of Seattle Team Shop, said it also helps that "every single radio station across town is talking about the Seahawks."
"At our Bellevue Square store, we just had a huge contingent of families" from the school where Matt Hasselbeck's kids go come in, he added. "Before all this, people were sort of melancholy about the Seahawks, and now they're extremely excited."
— Amy MartinezTidbits
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Retail Report appears Fridays. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or email@example.com. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.