JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The dismal season for the Jaguars, coupled with the pandemic has crippled the sports apparel industry locally.
The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Jaguars 27-3 on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field, not really a big surprise with how this season has gone. Pittsburgh is 10-0 and the Jaguars are 1-9, teams quickly going in opposite directions.
The sales in apparel over the weekend was equally as lopsided.
At one local sports merchandise and apparel store, it sold merchandise to about 25 times more Steelers fans than Jaguars fans.
So, if you want to find some good Jaguars apparel, don’t worry Sports Mania will have you covered, said its owner, Matthew Smith.
It’s readily available and waiting.
“This is generally one of the size(s), large, the first thing to sell out every season,” Smith said. “I have a full-size run. Every size still in stock. This is the same scenario for just about every category of items in our store.”
Smith said this may be the store’s worst year ever in apparel and merchandise sales. If it’s not the worst, it’s tied.
Monday afternoon, Sports Mania employees were clearing out remaining Pittsburgh Steelers stock, which flew off the shelves last weekend while Pittsburgh was in town.
But Jaguars gear? Not so much.
“We knew that our money to be made in Jacksonville this weekend was off the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Smith said. “We invested in the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
And frankly, if Gardner Minshew hadn’t blown up in popularity last year, this would be two years in a row with low Jaguars apparel sales and interest.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has added an extra layer of problems for this family run business. They plan for bad seasons and make up for losses selling at events like the Super Bowl, men’s basketball Final Four and College World Series. Those sales aren’t going to happen this year.
“We bank on going out there and store our nuts for the winter time,” he said. “And if our winter time has a blizzard come through, and we only win one game in Jacksonville, we rely on that money we built in the summer time to survive.”
The hope locally is the team can turn things around quickly so this gear sits in someone’s closet and not lingering on a store hangar.
One caveat from the weekend. Sports Mania did score a lucky deal and was able to ship much of its remaining Steelers gear to a store in Pittsburgh where the team is undefeated, and business isn’t that bad.