Gear up: Milwaukee has variety of ways to support your team
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On a sunny May afternoon, Milwaukee Brewers fans of all ages walked through the permanent retail shops within Miller Park holding up shirts and jerseys and Racing Sausages plush toys, perused the pop-up stands for the newest hats, or thought about different name and number combinations in the custom shirt and jersey areas.
It was a full retail experience with a ball game going on in the background, which makes shopping for Brewers gear at Miller Park different than anyplace else.
"It's a great way for fans to show their loyalty and be excited about the Brewers," said Senior Director of Merchandise Branding Jill Aronoff.
Miller Park has two team stores, the main one being the 4,500-square foot Brewers Team Store located in the Hot Corner that is open year round, and another at the Home Plate Gate. The retail experience for fans changed considerably with the opening of Miller Park in 2001.
An added focus came when Mark Attanasio purchased the team in 2005, and his wife Debbie is credited with enhancing that experience with store renovations and additions, as well as more cohesive branding throughout the park.
"It's not just that the product has increased in terms of variety but also the spaces have increased," Brewers Vice President of Communications Tyler Barnes said. "You could say it's right in line with what our philosophy is, which starts with Mark and goes through (Chief Operating Officer) Rick Schlesinger and goes through everybody else here is that we've got an absolutely spectacular ballpark but you have to continuously look at ways to update it, upgrade it, understand the fan's tastes and retail is a big part of that experience."
To do that, the Brewers continually roll out new products throughout the year – even the offseason – to keep inventory fresh and season-ticket holders or frequent attendees coming back into the stores. The club does have the flexibility to create specific, specialized items – like the popular Japanese Norichika Aoki T-shirts – outside of the gear that is seen across all of Major League Baseball.
"The MLB licensee's will come to us a couple times a year to show us what's available and we'll go from there," Aronoff said. "We'll also push them a little bit and give them some direction on what we're looking for."
The organization also has the added element of the Racing Sausages to market, and the mascots have their own retail area called the Meat Locker.
A special part of the retail experience is when the team clinches a postseason berth, like in 2008 and 2011, or if there were to be a special moment that fans would want to remember, like a no-hitter or perfect game. How is the team able to roll out such specific, special merchandise in the matter of a day?
"It's magic," Aronoff quipped, then paused for dramatic effect.
"MLB calls those types of items 'hot market' items," she continued. "Say we need to get t-shirts in for (Yovani) Galllardo having a no-hitter the next day, and MLB works with Majestic and the team to have those T-shirts printed and shipped overnight. When it comes to the postseason, many times there comes a point where you ask for the items beforehand so you can have the T-shirts and caps right then and there.
"We put orders in well before – we call them 'win orders' – and as soon the team wins Majestic locally has a printer who is printing out the T-shirts and getting it to us in time."
Despite the ingrained advantages the organization has in selling merchandise, the club realizes fans can purchase official team gear at any number of online or brick and mortar outlets across the state – so there is a bit of competition, too.
"The way that we compete with that is number one, we are the official store of the Milwaukee Brewers," Aronoff said. "In buying from us you are buying directly from the team and you're supporting keeping the players on the field. We offer many promotions, gift with purchases, tickets, certain things throughout the season and throughout the year and we have the widest variety of Brewers gear anywhere in the nation, anywhere in the world, and we have a lot of exclusive items."
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