Times sure have changed.
“Five years ago, no one would ask for anything Pirates. Now three quarters of our store is Pirates stuff,” said Steve Kozak, owner of Kozee’s Emporium, which has stores in the Logan Valley, Nittany and Lycoming malls.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the post season for the first time since 1992 – they play the Cincinnati Reds tonight in the National League Wild Card game – and area merchants are reaping the benefits.
Sales of Pirates merchandise are skyrocketing.
“I would say between last year and this year, it has tripled. We carry all of the Nike and Majestic apparel and have a knock off [lower priced] type shirt with different logos that sell for $10. We blow out of those,” said Jeff Beach, manager of Shenk & Tittle in the Logan Valley Mall. “Between the T-shirts and hats and novelty stuff, we’ve gone over and above last year.”
Sales of Pirates merchandise have at least doubled at the Steelers Gift Shop at Specialty Promotions in Ebensburg, said owner Rich Vetock.
“In the past, once the Penguins season ends we would have a lull until the start of Steelers training camp. This year, there was no lull. We have had a steady stream of business since they started,” Vetock said. “A lot of that is a result of how well they have done, and more people are going to the games. They stop here on the way to the games. They can save a little more here compared to what they pay there.”
Kozee’s Emporium is also seeing an increase in Pirates merchandise sales.
“Usually this is a slow time of the year, but our sales of Pirates merchandise are up 35 to 40 percent,” Kozak said. “We spent last week at the Bloomsburg Fair and sold a lot of Pirates merchandise.”
The Sports Shop in the Logan Valley Mall, which sells novelty items, is also seeing an increase in Pirates merchandise sales.
“Our sales have probably doubled since the all-star break. As soon as we get postseason merchandise, it is going out the door. I knew it would be hard to get, so I ordered a lot of it. I stockpiled as much as I could,” said owner Rick Pettanati. “After Tuesday [today] I will know if I have to get more.”
Andrew McCutchen items remain the most popular among local Pirates fans.
“About anything with McCutchen on it is what attracts people. They are our hottest selling items right now,” Beach said. “We have four different styles of shirts with him or his likeness.”
Local merchants are hoping for a Pirates win tonight.
“Hopefully they can win the wild card game and keep the interest going. If they lose, it will fall off pretty quickly,” Beach said. “We are keeping our fingers crossed.”