Right now, Philies are a good business to be in


And the Phillies thought last year was a big hit in their ballpark merchandise store.

Turns out this season, which already produced a record attendance, is also posting significant gains in sales of apparel, etc. Scott Brandreth, the director of merchandising for the Phillies, said a short time ago that their overall numbers for the year are 18 percent ahead of last year. And the Phillies clinching a day earlier than 2007 also provided a big boost. Sales, Brandreth said, for last weekend were up 48 percent over a year ago. Remember that in 2007 the Phillies didn’t clinch until Sunday afternoon. This time the crowds flowed into the store after the team clinched on Saturday. Then came Sunday and a full house lured in by Fan Appreciation Day.

Brandreth noted that they “learned a few things from last year.” For one, they ordered in more merchandise for a fan base that’s warmed quickly to the idea of the Phillies back in the playoffs. Brandreth said that seven out of the top 10 sales items this past week are playoff-related, led by those locker-room caps the players wore during the NL East title celebration last Saturday. 

Modell’s marketing manager Derrick Morgan had said the other day that they were seeing a greater demand for some of the lesser-known stars, such as Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz. Brandreth said that he’s noticed more spikes than a trend; for instance, he said that demand picked up for Shane Victorino items about the time his grand slam was settling into the leftfield stands yesterday. "Werth will do that, too. He’ll have a huge game” and fans will come in looking to buy an item with his name or number on it.

They have already put in their early order for merchandise that says National League champion on it. That’s not supreme confidence in what’s ahead; it’s more a fact of life in the retail business. At some point in that series (and yes, they have this one to clinch first) they’ll go ahead and have the first order shipped in. If the Phillies win the National League pennant, the manufacturer will ship the rest of the order. If they don’t? Well, it happens all the time in sports. Items are just returned to the manufacturer to do with what they please. 

That was the case last September, when the Phillies had to order in shipments of wild card and NL East champion items. Up to the final weekend, no one was sure which they were going to secure. By Sunday night, the NL East caps and related merchandise were being bought and worn. The wild card stuff? Probably starting a circuitous route to the Caribbean or Europe or wherever much of that merchandise ultimately gets dumped.