Editor's Note: This article is a part of a special advertising section in our June issue dedicated to the retail operations of Delaware North Sportservice.
In order to capture the highest sales volume, and ultimately the highest team revenue, Donna Genesky decided to change the way fans think about in-stadium retail.
Gone were the days where fans would simply browse a T-shirt cart on their way out of the stadium. If the Delaware North Sportservice director of Retail-East was going to dramatically increase sales, she realized that she had to make shopping part of the overall game day experience. She had to create something striking.
“One thing we know with Delaware North is that part of the fan experience applies to retail,” she said. That means more inventory, longer hours, and more importantly, creating branded team stores that fans of all stripes just had to visit and see for themselves.
At New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., that meant creating a 10,000-sq.-ft. team store that has to be seen to be believed. At Solider Field in Chicago, it meant a year-round store with exclusive high-end Bears clothing and throwback jerseys that could only be found at the team store. At U.S. Cellular Field, that meant creating a sports retail operation that didn’t just sell gear for the tenant Chicago White Sox, but sold sporting goods for every team in Chicago, whether it was the Bulls, the University of Illinois or even nearby Notre Dame (all local teams except the hated Chicago Cubs, who can sell their own clothing, thank you very much).
“What they’ve created for us at the Meadowlands is unbelievable,” said stadium GM Ron VanDeVeen. “We have two tenant football teams here and they created a retail space that can literally flip over in two hours for a completely branded Giants or Jets experience. Some people swear they’re two different stores.”
Using a high-tech system of color LED lights, hidden flip shelving and floor compartments, the 10,000-sq.-ft. Flagship Store easily switches from Jets to Giants. The store can do $500,000 in sales on game day.
“It is a 100 percent Giants store the day of the Giants game and it is 100 percent Jets store on the day of the Jets game. We knew we needed an environment that spoke completely and would promote the brand, while coming up with a great environment that was of interest,” Genesky said.
Besides changing the look of the store, the staff has to change out over 1,000 pieces of individual merchandise, and prep a fleet of 30 roaming carts and in-stadium stations used to hawk product. Carts are designed to catch “the casual fans, who might not visit the store.” Interactive video games and a life-sized air hockey station can be found inside the Flagship Store to attract young shoppers.
“All of that creates interest, draws traffic and adds a lot of fun for the fans and improves the fan experience,” Genesky said. “You’re always looking for points of sale in retail.”
The team store at Soldier Field is an iconic location as well, decorated with historical photos from the team’s comprehensive archives. Beyond experience, the name of the game is high-end products, including vintage throwback jerseys that can be personalized using computer printing and direct-to-garment technology.
“We’ve also created shops within shops, especially for Reebok. This allows us to highlight product groupings,” said Genesky. “What you’re also trying to do in a store like that is increase the average order. With a large selection you’re more likely to buy another product – maybe a sweatshirt and a T-shirt. And not only are you trying to increase the actual buy, you’re trying to improve the efficiency of the transaction, so we equip each store with over 20 points of sale to improve processing times.”
Inventory is also the name of the game at U.S. Cellular Field, which will feature merch for all Chicago teams spread out over a 12,000-sq.-ft., two-level store when it opens during Fall of 2012. The store will be located next to a full service restaurant and bar, which will also be opened year round. The idea is that fans will travel to shop, then stay for a drink — or two.
“Sportservice developed a prototype LED staircase that will include game tickers and images of Chicago sports history when you walk between floors,” said Joey Nigro, Delaware North’s general manager for the store. The shop also features a dazzling glass elevator, and dozens of flat screen displays to provide a loop of White Sox highlights. The store has 17 points-of-sale and will typically be staffed by 30 employees.
“This store is designed to capture plenty of business during the game, but as you can imagine the store will serve as a destination for both locals and tourists visiting the city,” Nigro said. “We expect our pre-game, post-game and non-game day sales are really what’s going to drive our investment at the store.”
Interviewed for this article: Donna Genesky, (617) 624-1632; Ron VanDeVeen, (201) 559-1559; Joey Nigro, (312) 339-1565