Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Cash registers across region glowing red

It took all of a few minutes for stores across the area to get overrun by Phillies fans seeking merchandise. The rush is continuing today.

Cash registers across region glowing red

Like a manager who has been to the postseason before, Chris Achilefu felt comfortable that he knew just what to expect at his Forman Mills store on

Grant Avenue
in Northeast Philly. After all, he had been through this before when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. Sort the World Series merchandise. Set up the table where the items would go. And when Brad Lidge would close out the win, move his staff and the World Series champion apparel into position.

 

 

 

 

“Before we knew it the game was over and in the next half-hour, we were mobbed,” Achilefu related earlier this afternoon, still going on fumes after pulling an all-nighter and moving adroitly from interviews to pulling out more merchandise. “We couldn’t put anything on the table anymore, so we just opened boxes. And I’m telling you, they were into those boxes.”

 

 

 

His story was a duplicate of one told by anyone involved in retail overnight. The calm before the storm, then the end of the game, then a sea of customers rolling  in and washing back out with anything with Phillies markings or colors.    

 

 

 

“We were as prepared as we could be,” said Scott Silnik, district manager for Sports Authority stores, earlier today. But not necessarily ready for what was in store. “To give you an idea I watched the game from home and figured once they told Cole Hamels he was the MVP I’d go over to the store at that point. I got over to the store in Turnersville [N.J.] where I live and there was packed house. You couldn’t find one parking space. There were five police officers from Washington Township directing traffic, and I would say at least 700 people in the front of the store. We had 800 units on hand and that was sold out in a half an hour.”

 

 

 

Everything was orderly, he said. Nothing out of the ordinary, as Silnik called it. “Everyone was shopping very, very neatly. No commotion. No fighting over everything.”

 

 

 

And then that store and others in the Sports Authority chain closed, restocked, and opened again around 5 a.m. “When we got to the [Turnersville] store about 4,” Silnik said, “there was a long line all the way around the building, people with their lawn chairs and all that kind of stuff, sitting out, waiting to rush the store, and we sold out that order in five minutes this morning.”

 

 

 

Merchandise they’ve been double and triple ordering has been selling out in 10 to 15 minutes after hitting the shelves, he added. “We can’t keep up with the demand right now. I’m thinking it will probably take at least until tomorrow afternoon for things to kind of level off with demand and we can get our supply caught up.”

 

 

 

With that demand expected to continue into the weekend, the 13 Forman Mills stores already have announced that they will open at 5 a.m. and not close until midnight today through Sunday.

 

 

 

Modell’s Sporting Goods stores also figure to remain open late tonight and reopen tomorrow before sunrise. As of a couple of hours ago they were still deciding on how much they were planning to expand their hours for the weekend. District manager Derrick Morgan could barely talk this afternoon, a combination of directing operations and exhaustion. Like Achilefu at Forman Mills, Morgan was looking for a corner to take a nap.

 

 

 

“Eight stores stayed open until late last night,” Morgan said, “and a couple came pretty close to not even closing, like where I am now, at our

Cottman Avenue
store. I think that closed for about 45 minutes just to restock, and people waited in line for them to open the doors back up. We opened up again at 5. We literally have had lines wrapped inside and out the store all day.”

 

 

 

 

Morgan said he attended the game last night and “because of the barricades I couldn’t get out of there really. I’ve been here at Cottman since 4:30 this morning. I haven’t left the store yet.” There and at other Modell’s stores, help had been recruited from as far away as New England to run the registers and sort merchandise. “We have 14 registers going,” Morgan said after pausing to look around the store. “It’s just surreal.”

 

 

 

While the two-day suspension of play left Phillies fans unhappy, it turned into a blessing for the Modell’s stores that were expecting to sell the basic world championship gear for a day or two. “You know what,” Morgan said, “we actually ended up with more because of the game getting split up the way it did. When we opened up the championship stuff last night, we actually had like blankets, shot glasses, coffee cups, car flags, pennants, baseballs. It’s a pretty deep selection.”

 

 

 

Not that the specific item matters. Chris Streahle, the director of advertising and marketing for Forman Mills, said “people are definitely looking more toward cold-weather items, but the feeling last night was so strong and intense that it really didn’t matter what it was. They were buying T-shirts, anything that said champion on it.”  

 

 

 

Sports Authority’s Silnik agreed. He noted that customers were “buying what we call generic [items], which is just a regular Jimmy Rollins jersey or Chad Utley jersey, things we would carry any day of the week. Even [league] championship stuff.”  He said they are planning to open their stores at 6 tomorrow morning to satisfy fans looking to purchase items before the noon parade. “If we get late shipments, we’ll stay open tonight,” he added. “But we’re going to run down. It will happen just like last night. We’ll end up selling out and having to close the building down and wait for the next shipment.”  

Paul Vigna
About this blog
Paul Vigna still has the seat he wrestled out of the concrete at Connie Mack Stadium parked in the finished basement, a 1980 Phillies championship mirror hanging above it. Now, why he’s kept an autograph of former Flyer Bruce Gamble on a sheet of Hockey Hall of Fame paper is another story. A native of Philly who grew up in Lansdale, he’s an assistant sports editor at the Daily News in charge of special projects who has written two columns related to sports and consumers: View From the Seats and Savvy Consumer.

ABOUT THIS BLOG:
Athletic contests were, for a long time, simply fun and games. Nowadays they’re just a small part of a sports entertainment industry that puts billions of dollars into play and a number of issues into motion. Moneyball indeed. You might be closer to the action than ever before, but that privilege comes at a price - and often it’s beyond what you can afford.

With that as the backdrop we’ll use this blog to dig out stories and swap advice about how the fan experience is changing and what it’s costing you now and in the future. Some of it will educate, some will let you vent. And in a sports panel format, it should allow for a consensus of opinion that can carry some weight.

Reach Paul at vignap@phillynews.com.

Paul Vigna
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