This all may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out to anecdotally convey how the Wizards’ recent success has trickled down to a typically sleepy part of the local economy: Wizards gear is selling out at local stores!
Rodney Smith, owner of Capitol Hill Sporting Goods and Apparel, says that, with the exception of a few key chains and car flags, he has sold out of all the Wizards gear he had in stock at his 1200-square-foot store in Capitol Hill. His John Wall jerseys, T-shirts, hats, and even throwback Gilbert Arenas paraphernalia are all gone. This is the first time the team has reached the playoffs in six seasons, and with a 3-1 lead over the Chicago Bulls, the team is one win away from clinching the first-round series.
But Smith isn’t rushing to restock his shelves just yet. He knows better than that: If the team loses, the merchandise will revert back to their slow sales, and he’ll be stuck with a whole lot of Wizards’ stuff.
“If they lose, people stop buying,” Smith says. “If they keep going, people are going to want to be a part of it, that’s how fans are…If they don’t do well, stuff don’t move.”
The manager at City Sports’ Farragut location, Bill Frazier, says his store has also sold out of its Wizards gear, merchandise numbering in the hundreds of items. And he says the Chinatown store, which is located right next to the Verizon Center, has sold even more. On an average day, according to Frazier, Pigskins and Nationals gear sell better than Wizards items, but since the basketball team made the playoffs, the basketball team’s items have been selling better than the other local franchises.
Frazier says that the City Sports’ corporate office is restocking the D.C. stores’ shelves every day and aren’t too worried about what will happen if the team loses this first-round series, predicting that it will all sell out eventually.
“We live in a world where they played crappy for 10 years,” says Frazier.
The Wizards face the Bulls in Chicago on Tuesday night for Game 5. If they win, they win the series. If that still doesn’t make you want some coveted merchandise, read Washington City Paper‘s guide on how to hop on the bandwagon.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.