Online sales of Packers merchandise take up the slack in pandemic-ravaged year
GREEN BAY – The rush to buy NFC North championship gear by Green Bay Packers fans wasn't the same as in past years. Well, at least not as obvious, anyway.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic put a serious damper on purchases at brick-and-mortar stores, such as the Packers Pro Shop, but people have learned to click on that "complete your sale" button on their electronic devices.
For the Packers Pro Shop, the team's success this season helped mitigate the damage the pandemic did to sales. The Packers are 13-3 for the second consecutive year, are the NFC North champions, and are the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
"Online, we are doing better than last year," said Peggy Prebelski, Packers' director of retail operations. "The brick and mortar is just going to suffer."
The physical Pro Shop has operated on reduced hours all year — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, with exceptions for home games — and it missed the 77,000 fans who are at Lambeau 10 times a year during normal seasons.
"Our home games weekends were our big events," Prebelski said.
The Pro Shop generally is open only to ticketed fans on days of home games. The Packers will have their first ticketed fans of the season the weekend of Jan. 16-17, when they host a divisional round playoff game. The time and date of that game will be announced after Sunday's wildcard-round games.
Fans can count on the Pro Shop to have the widest array of Packers-themed merchandise. Other retailers have fewer items, usually focused on clothing, but sometimes at lower prices.
The immediate Green Bay area saw a decline in Packers merchandise outlets with the demise of Shopko Stores and the closing of The Jersey Shore. The Packers Pro Shop remains, of course, as does Kohl's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Dunham Sports and Packer Gear and Cheese Gift Shop at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, which have varying selections of items both online and at their stores.
Special merchandise, such as that tagged to championships, does not always show up everywhere. The airport gift shop, for example, did not order NFC North championship gear this year because the likelihood of sales is low, considering people aren't passing through the airport to come to games. Owner Jack Hill said he will have NFC Championship or Super Bowl items if the Packers get that far. Those are things that still will have legs when the next football season begins and, everyone hopes, life will be closer to normal.
If the Packers win the NFC Championship in two weeks, merchandise will be available immediately. The Pro Shop orders a limited amount just for that circumstance — it is destroyed if the Packers lose -- and more on order for delivery beginning the next day.
"We have to prepare as much as we can ahead of time," Prebelski said. "We have it planned, our buyers have been buying already, probably over 100 unique items. That will lead us into the next two weeks, when you are going into your Super Bowl run."
Dick's Sporting Goods laid in NFC North gear as soon as the Packers won the division and will have NFC and Super Bowl items if it comes to that.
Prominent this season are items with the "Won Not Done," motto, which is popular across football.
More specific to the Packers are jersey sales. As might be expected, the top selling jerseys at the Pro Shop bear the names Rodgers, Adams and Alexander. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams set a host of team records leading the team into the playoffs, and Jaire Alexander is a popular and upcoming defensive back. Rodgers and Adams were named first-team All Pro selections on Friday and Alexander was a second-team choice.
According to online retailer Fanatics, Aaron Rodgers' jerseys have been in the top 10 of sales much of the season, but rose in parallel with the Packers fortunes. Rodgers ranked third at the end of the season, behind quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City and Baker Mayfield of Cleveland. Both of those teams are in the playoffs, as well.
While clothing makes up the majority of items, Prebelski said the Pro Shop also has NFC North championship gold coins "that always do really well for us."
Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/