According Bob Hyde, the Jazz's senior vice president of business operations, the annual pre-Christmas rush is explainable because the stores primarily deal in "gift-type items" like team jerseys, jackets and memorabilia. Hyde
calls the NBA
"more of a home-team market" than football, baseball or hockey - except when it comes to the game's biggest stars.
At Fanzz stores, Hyde
said, overall sales are "down slightly" from last December, partly because the buying hysteria that coincided with the University of Utah's
undefeated football season and run to the Fiesta Bowl is not a factor. Still, this will be the second-most profitable year in the chain's 18-year history, trailing only 1997. That was the Jazz's
first year in the NBA Finals. "That," said Hyde
, "was unbelievable." In Utah, Jazz-related items are among the most popular among shoppers, although Hyde
says the National Football League
"is always No. 1" when it comes to chain-wide volume. Who's hot? "It's
mostly a regional thing," Hyde
said."But Pittsburgh is strong across the board.The Chicago Bears, too.And the [Dallas] Cowboys." Some loyalties are difficult to explain. For example, Washington merchandise sells well in New Mexico and "the Raiders are still very popular in Southern California" despite their move back to the Bay Area a few years ago, Hyde
said. On the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco 49er items "used to be very popular" but have slipped from the public's radar screen. "But the team that has dropped the furthest," Hyde
said, "are the [Green Bay] Packers." Not coincidentally, the 49ers and the Packers are two of the NFL's
worst teams this season. "Winning matters - absolutely," Hyde
said, though there is one glaring exception. Sales of Chicago Cubs merchandise is always strong, despite the fact one of baseball's most doomed-to-fail franchises has not won a World Series since 1908. Overall, Hyde
said, the sale of all baseball-related items has made "a strong resurgence in the last three years. . . . People just seem to love that sport." The National Hockey League
is a different story. After a strike wiped out last season, Hyde
says the sale of NHL items "is not coming back too quick."
"We had 1,000 T.O. jerseys [in stock] when all that went down," Hyde
said. At this point, those Owens jerseys are marketed "as a collector's item, but most fans don't buy that," Hyde
said. In Southern California, the sale of Bryant items "went to almost nothing" last year. According to Hyde
, however, the slump in sales didn't result from the legal problems Bryant encountered after an alleged sexual assault in Colorado.
"That's the sense we got from our customers," Hyde