Stores see crimson rush of sales

Mary Jo Morrison at Team Fever in Pelham helps a line of customers gathered in the store the day after Alabama's BCS National Championship victory. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Since the University of Alabama’s Jan. 9 shutout of rival LSU to win the 2011 BCS National Championship game, local UA fan shops have been selling crimson-colored items of all kinds at an explosive rate.

When employees arrived at Team Fever off U.S. 31 in Pelham the morning after the game, they found a line of Alabama fans waiting to purchase the store’s first shipment of national championship gear.

“We went through our first shipment in about an hour and a half,” said Team Fever Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Anton Huber, noting more shipments came in “just in time.”

A few days before the game, Huber traveled to New Orleans to sell items at the Bama Bash held at the New Orleans Convention Center. The event featured several former Crimson Tide football players, such as Jay Barker and Antonio Langham, and nearly 10,000 Alabama fans, Huber said.

The trip to New Orleans helped kick off a week of high sales figures and customer traffic for the Team Fever company, which also operates locations in McCalla, Huntsville, Fultondale and Gulf Shores.

Elsewhere in Shelby County, Alabaster’s Campus Spirit store in the Colonial Promenade shopping center also saw huge amounts of customer traffic in the days following the championship game.

“It’s been wonderful. Everyone is coming in to buy their national championship gear,” said Campus Spirit Assistant Manager Diane Leslie.

Because the stores purchased their championship gear before the game, they took a “gamble” on Alabama’s victory, Huber said.

Leslie said her store ordered championship shirts without the score printed on them before the game and hoped for the best.

“If Alabama wins, you already have the shirts at your store,” Leslie said, noting the company would have shipped the shirts back had Alabama lost.

Huber said he “planned on Alabama winning,” and ordered his Crimson Tide national championship stock before the game. Since the Tide’s victory, nearly every customer at Team Fever has left with at least one national championship hat and T-shirt, Huber said, noting the store was set to receive a shipment of championship sweatshirts Jan. 11.

The Crimson Tide’s victory meant local fan stores were “spoiled” for the third straight year, Huber said. Alabama also won the 2009 national championship and Auburn won the 2010 title.

“It’s a blessing. Retail sales in the country have been down for several years,” Huber said. “The energy and morale and overall excitement that comes when a team wins the national championship helps out all businesses.

“We’ve been spoiled,” Huber added. “But I would be OK with Alabama getting number 14 or Auburn getting number three next year.”