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Retailers to offer football fans unusual merchandise

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Usually, by the first of February, retailers are clearing shelves of holiday goods and close out cold-weather-related items.

This year, many Indianapolis-area retailers will stock up for a winter buying spree that could rival Christmas—especially for downtown retailers and those near hotels.

It’s common for retailers in Super Bowl host cities to bring in a special cache of goods not usually sold in the market.

This season’s Super Bowl is being held at Lucas Oil Stadium Feb. 5, and area retailers are planning for the rush of football fanatics and corporate high-rollers expected to descend on the city.

“Super Bowl week is like Christmas in February for retailers in the host city,” said Miami-based sports business expert Rick Horrow. “For a city that’s never hosted a Super Bowl before, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The shelves will be stocked with goods that those stores may never have carried before or will carry again.”

Indianapolis merchandisers are comparing the frenzy surrounding Super Bowl week to the week of the Formula One race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 to 2007.

“An event like the F1 race or the Super Bowl is unique because you don’t normally see that many high-rollers at one time in Indianapolis,” said Jeff Dunaway, owner of Dunaway’s restaurant on the east edge of downtown.

And that crowd is ready to spend, said Angie Free, Galleria Dallas Mall’s manager.

“The Super Bowl brings in a large corporate crowd, a real white-collar gathering,” said Free, who works in the city that hosted the 2011 Super Bowl.

The other segment of the crowd, Free said, are fanatical followers of the two teams that make the big game.

“Those people are ecstatic and some of them figure they may never get another chance to see a Super Bowl,” Free said. “They’re looking for something to memorialize their visit.”

There will be plenty of wares to help people remember their Super Bowl stay in Indianapolis. Shops—big and small—at the airport, downtown, and in suburban malls will stock the shelves with almost every kind of product emblazoned with the NFL and Super Bowl monikers and logos of the two teams playing in the game.

Super Bowl retail numbersAlready, Indianapolis stores—from Kroger to Macy’s—are stocking a line of goods bearing the Indianapolis skyline including Lucas Oil Stadium and the NFL Super Bowl logo.

Traditional items include T-shirts, sweatshirts, magnets, coffee mugs and caps. Those items cost $10 to $75.

Other items that will be imported into the market closer to the game date include wares ranging from whimsical—such as the NFL team gnomes that sell for about $20—to the practical and popular—such as the Super Bowl blanket selling for $40—to Super-Bowl-emblazoned Tiffany crystal vases and lamps that sell for more than $150 to Game Time Watches that can sell for up to $200 to Charles Fazzino framed 3-D art that costs well over $1,000.

There also will be a line of upscale products available at the NFL House store inside Union Station and also at some of the area’s high-end retailers. The items at the store inside Union Station will include a line of crystal ware and leather goods including NFL-emblazoned wallets, briefcases and handbags, said Dave Moroknek, president of locally based MainGate Inc., which will operate the store. Those items will cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, NFL officials said.

Almost every hotel gift shop will sell Super Bowl wares, too.

The 35,000-square-foot store inside the NFL’s Fan Experience at the Indiana Convention Center will contain the largest amalgamation of Super Bowl goods in the state, NFL officials said.

The NFL store will be stocked with officially licensed hats, gloves, novelties, footballs, collectibles, memorabilia and home decor. Prices range from a $3 golf ball to a $250 display containing replicas of all 45 Super Bowl tickets. There will also be a number of high-priced helmets and jerseys signed by current and retired NFL players.

The amount spent on Super-Bowl-related goods is “staggering,” said Richard Sheehan, a University of Notre Dame sports economist.

NFL.com alone will sell more than $100 million in Super Bowl merchandise, said Leo Kane, NFL senior vice president of consumer products.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that direct consumer spending dumps nearly $200 million into a Super Bowl host city’s economy in about a week’s time. Much of that will go to local retailers.

The record direct spend—$195 million—was set during the pre-recession 2007 Super Bowl, which pitted the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears in Miami, the study said.

When economists factor in the money spent by people and companies in the community where visitors dumped cash, total impact estimates hit nearly $400 million.

While foul weather limited retail store hours and pushed sales in North Texas down about 15 percent from projections, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that direct visitor spending could hit $200 million for the first time in Super Bowl history this year in Indianapolis.

NFL and Super Bowl merchandise doesn’t account for all the spending.

“Super Bowl visitors are not only shoppers, they’re buyers,” Notre Dame’s Sheehan said. “They’ll be looking for all kinds of items, and stores will gladly supply them. Remember, about two-thirds of the Super Bowl crowd are corporate decision-makers, so they have lots of money to spend. And they like high-end items.”

Several Dallas retail stores ordered special lines of high-priced goods just for the Super Bowl, including one that brought in thigh-high python-skin boots selling for $5,549 and another that brought in Jimmy Choo handbags selling for $4,995.

“Don’t laugh,” Horrow said. “There’s a market for those types of items at the Super Bowl and I would expect to see that kind of product in Indianapolis.”

Officials for Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Carson Pirie Scott plan to carry a special line of goods—ranging from men’s and women’s high-end formal wear to business accessories and jewelry—in their central Indiana stores during Super Bowl week.

Local specialty stores, too, are preparing to bring in special lines of goods. Roberts photo shop downtown is bringing in a large inventory of high-end and professional photographic equipment for the throng of media expected to descend on Indianapolis as well as an extended line of point-and-shoot cameras and binoculars for fans.

Windsor Jewelry will carry an extensive line of 10K and 14K gold Super-Bowl-themed items from Logo Art, a division of Herff Jones, as well as a line of high-end charms and pendants of city landmarks like Monument Circle.

The special goods trucked into Indianapolis also are edible. The NFL has licensed area grocery stores to carry items such as an edible Super Bowl topper that can be placed on cakes or cooked onto pizzas.

Kahn’s Fine Wines on North Keystone Avenue is planning to stock a wide array of Super-Bowl-themed gift baskets, a broadened line of gourmet cheeses, fancy wine and champagne glasses, specialty beers imported from the two home cities of the Super Bowl teams, pocket flasks and more.

“We are purchasing a three-wheel bicycle with a box on the front for downtown deliveries and will deliver anywhere downtown,” said Kahn’s owner Jim Arnold.•

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