NBA trade frenzy means an opportunity for biggest jersey retailer

February 20, 2015 04:13 PM

(Bloomberg)—The busiest trade deadline in National Basketball Association history means opportunity for new jerseys, not liability on old ones, at Fanatics Inc., No. 42 on the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500.

Of the NBA record 39 players that were traded Thursday, the largest retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise has physical inventory on just five—Michael Carter-Williams, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Knight, Goran Dragic and Danny Granger.

Most customized jerseys are made from blanks immediately after an order is placed. President of Merchandising Jack Boyle said the company is prepared to sell new jerseys for all players who moved teams as soon as numbers are announced.

“A day like yesterday isn’t a pain point,” Boyle said in a telephone interview. “It’s an opportunity.”

The inventory on Carter-Williams, Garnett, Knight, Dragic and Granger—which Boyle called “relatively small”—will be marked down a minimum of 40%. For example, a $109.95 white Philadelphia 76ers jersey for Carter-Williams, who went to the Milwaukee Bucks, will sell for around $66. Other player-specific products, such as bobbleheads and plush toys, will also be discounted.

Fanatics, which operates the official online shops for the NBA and teams including the 76ers, has five fulfillment centers across the country, with most of its production happening in Florida and Kentucky.

Old school

The situation is different for brick-and-mortar stores such as New York-based Modell’s Sporting Goods, which have physical inventory. Jason Karlowski, the company’s manager for sports marketing and public relations, didn’t return a voice message seeking comment on out-of-date jerseys.

The 76ers shop declined to comment on inventory of Carter-Williams apparel, according to team spokesman Michael Preston. The Nets’ store did the same, spokesman Barry Baum said in an e-mail.

Boyle said that, while Fanatics monitors media reports to get an idea of which trades may happen, it waits for official confirmation from the league or teams before discounting apparel.

It also prepares for production on new jerseys. When four-time Most Valuable Player LeBron James announced in July that he would wear No. 23 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Fanatics started filling orders within an hour.

Remaining inventory on some players will sell out quickly, according to Boyle. For example, when Garnett left the Boston Celtics in 2013 after six seasons and an NBA title, the site quickly offloaded its remaining Garnett apparel.

Other players have less demand, though Boyle said he isn’t worried about being permanently stuck with unwanted shirts.

“Some take longer than others,” he said. “We find a price that will eventually move it and we do sell it.”




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