Thursday, September 20, 2012
MLB wild card addition challenges retailers
By Darren Rovell
On Oct. 5, when four teams will battle for two playoff spots in a newly created wild-card game, Major League Baseball merchandise licensees and retailers will be on edge.
That's because most of these companies aren't taking too much risk by producing and ordering postseason gear for a team that could be out of it nine innings later.
"This isn't the typical hot market environment because it really only comes down to one day," said Kenny Schack of Rico Industries, which has a license to make postseason novelty items.
Two other retailers who have local teams that might be in the wild-card game told ESPN.com that they purchased a limited amount of product and had put in contingency plans to order more with the manufacturer should their team win.
Howard Smith, Major League Baseball's senior vice president of licensing, said that there are three distinct areas of celebration gear: Playoffs, World Series and the World Series title. That's a change from the first round of the playoffs last year, which had gear that said "wild card" on it. This was done to streamline what becomes a more challenging business with the extra game, Smith said.
"There are 16 teams in the hunt right now instead of the usual 10 or 11," Smith said. "We have to be equipped to handle this. But it's good for the business overall."