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Green Bay Packers fans flock to local retailers for championship merchandise

Many Green Bay-area stores anticipate shoppers, open doors at 6 a.m.

Feb. 8, 2011
 
Fans buy Super Bowl gear at the Packers Pro Shop in Green Bay.
Fans buy Super Bowl gear at the Packers Pro Shop in Green Bay. / Photos by Matthew L. Becker/Press-Gazette correspo

There aren't many places to buy Green Bay Packers apparel in Alaska. So Renee Stangl didn't mind going overboard Monday morning.

"I'm buying for the whole damn world," said Stangl, who had a bag filled with items from the Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field. "I live in Anchorage, Alaska, so I'm taking them back all this stuff.

Fans swarmed local retailers following the team's fourth Super Bowl victory Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many stores opened their doors at 6 a.m. to accommodate shoppers.

However, fans in Green Bay perhaps still asleep from a long night spent celebrating weren't rushing to grab garb that early. Christine Hojnacki, a spokeswoman for Bon-Ton Stores, which owns Younkers in the Bay Park Square mall, said of the eight stores that opened early across the state, Green Bay had the lowest turnout. But that changed as the day went on.

And a Packers victory is exactly what Bon-Ton was hoping for.

"We had conference championship merchandise in stores in both (Wisconsin and Pennsylvania), and we were selling Packers merchandise 4-to-1, so we're happy for many reasons the Packers won," she said.

Dick's Sporting Goods, 811 Pilgrim Way, Ashwaubenon, reopened immediately after the Packers victory Sunday night and didn't close until after 1 a.m., said Jeremiah Zimmer, community marketing manager for the athletic retailer.

"With the NFC championship, we had good momentum from that, and we rode that excitement," Zimmer said.

The Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field was bustling all morning, selling out of just about everything. Shipments came in every hour to keep up with the demand, one employee said.

"You can't find all this good stuff in Illinois. You got to buy it here," said Kay Joho, of Joliet, Ill., who came up to Green Bay to watch the game.

Replica T-shirts of those worn by the players after Sunday night's win were available at most locations, but the bulk of the world championship apparel won't be in stock until later in the week. Everything from Super Bowl Champion hats to pink shirts designed for women to shot glasses will be sold in stores, said Mike Walters, a manager for The Jersey Store in Ashwaubenon. Fans can expect shirts commemorating Aaron Rodgers' Super Bowl MVP win to be sold as well.

Rodgers has been closing the gap on Clay Matthews' lead for top jersey sales at The Jersey Store, Walters said. During the season, Matthews' jerseys outsold everyone else five-to-one.

Even after this week's surge, businesses expect sales to remain high for months.

"They're tearing the doors down to get this stuff," Walters said. "When they won it in 1996-97, there really was no offseason because we were busy all the way through summer. It will level off, but leveling off is still going to be a huge gain for us in terms of net sales."

Of course, betting on a Super Bowl winner is still a crapshoot for many retailers. Much of the material is ordered well in advance, and the bulk of it is canceled after a team loses.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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