The improvements offer more space to display Blues jerseys. Vladimir Tarasenko’s No. 91 (right) was among the league’s top sellers on NHL.com last season. (Courtesy Levy)
The St. Louis Blues have overhauled their merchandise operation at Enterprise Center, effectively doubling the amount of retail space at the 24-year-old arena and folding all retail under the STL Authentics brand.
The Blues teamed with Levy Rank + Rally, their retail provider, and architect Generator Studio on the project. The upgrades are part of the second phase of arena renovations, a $42 million in-vestment shared by the concessionaire.
The improvements add 38,000 square feet to the arena, including 10,000 square feet on both the club level and the mezzanine level, said Chris Zimmerman, the Blues’ president, CEO of busi-ness operations and alternate governor.
“When you walked in the arena before (at the main entrance), it was an open atrium up to the roof as you came in off of Clark Avenue,” Zimmerman said. “We added at both the club and mezzanine levels concrete slabs which created incremental space for our new club lounge and store and a new retail area upstairs. It’s dramatic space that did not exist before.”
The STL Authentics brand, launched last year for game-used pucks, has expanded to cover all Blues retail items. (Courtesy Levy)
On the club level, the STL Authentics Shop, measuring 585 square feet, offers items to premium patrons that are not available anywhere else in the arena, Zimmerman said. The STL Authentics brand, which was launched last year for game-used pucks sold to the public, now covers all Blues retail items, he said.
The new mezzanine store, encompassing 2,000 square feet, has a different look and caters to impulse buys with a wide selection of novelties, headwear and T-shirts for fans sitting in the upper deck, said Alison Weber, Levy’s chief creative officer, who was principally involved in the retail project.
At street level, the STL Authentics Team Store now runs 4,100 square feet, compared with 2,500 square feet under the old layout. Additional space was created by relocating the old Blue Line Club, a premium lounge next to the team store, to event level, said Tom Proebstle, Generator Studio’s founding partner and design director.
“Our main store was one of the smaller ones of any arena,” Zimmerman said. “We weren’t creating a very attractive and engaging shopping experience. During intermissions and pregame, people saw an area with long lines and a struggle to move around, which put us at a disadvantage.”
The bigger footprint enables Rank + Rally, in partnership with Adidas, the NHL’s official retail supplier, to offer a greater selection of Blues headwear and knitwear, which was missing in in the old setup, Weber said.
There’s also more display space for jerseys, like those bearing the name and number of Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ star right winger. His No. 91 was the 10th-best-selling jersey in the league for the 2017-18 season, according to NHL.com.
In addition, Rank + Rally created a special-edition T-shirt, “Straight Outta SoCo,” which refers to Patrick Maroon, a new Blues player from St. Louis County. Those shirts, one example of a “hot market” item with limited supply, will be displayed in the windows facing the street in the renovated store, Weber said. As part of the local focus, Rank + Rally signed deals with Normal and Lusso, two St. Louis custom apparel firms marketing to men and women, respectively.
“They curate different designers to feature their products in our stores to make that specific local connection that gives the fan a different experience than they may have at a big box retailer,” Weber said.
Levy took over the Blues’ merchandise in 2015 before its retail group became Rank + Rally (Levy has been the team’s food provider since 2008). E15, its data analytics group, teamed with the Blues’ in-house analytics division to survey 2,000 fans and get feedback on arena merchandise.
“The fact that you could not actually go in and find the merchandise and buy it was really a challenge for fans,” Weber said. “Our goal was to take advantage of more retail space to broaden our product mix around the men’s lifestyle, women’s and youth categories. The other intention was to make sure we had adequate space to create seasonal products and limited quantity to engage fans on a more regular basis.”
Rank + Rally now provides retail for 23 big league and college teams. Its client roster recently expanded by eight teams after Levy signed a deal with AEG Merchandising to take over retail at Staples Center and StubHub Center, both in the Los Angeles area, and Target Center in Minneapolis.