String of championships brings big business

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Team Fever store in Pelham has seen a rush of sales every year since 2009, as either Auburn or Alabama have won the past four national championships. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the University of Alabama’s victory over Notre Dame in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship game in Miami, local retailers started preparing for a familiar rush.

Alabama’s most recent national championship victory marked the fourth straight year a college football team from the state of Alabama took home the crystal football. The Crimson Tide also won the 2009 and 2011 national championships, while the Auburn Tigers were victorious in 2010.

“I think we’ve had a championship every year we’ve been open except that first year,” said Diane Leslie, assistant manager of the Campus Spirit store in Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade shopping center. “It’s been great.”

The first year Campus Spirit was open, Alabama made an appearance in the SEC Championship game, which also helped to drive up sales at local fan gear retailers.

Many local sports memorabilia stores, such as Campus Spirit and Team Fever in Pelham, had already gotten shipments of items declaring Alabama the 2012 national champions before the game even started.

“We got a shipment of shirts and some generic items before the game,” Leslie said, noting the store could have sent the items back to the retailer had Alabama lost.

Team Fever followed a similar approach, offering national championship memorabilia without the final score until the store received shipments of post-game items.

“The screen printer ran all night long,” Team Fever Manager Alex James said as he took a break from unloading items displaying the 42-14 final score the morning after the game.

Campus Spirit and Team Fever were set to get more shipments of national championship gear throughout the week to help keep up with customer demand.

The local teams’ recent success has helped the local stores during a time many retailers are facing economic hardships.

“Business has been really good,” James said. “It’s excellent to have that kind of success year after year.

“It’s like having an extra month or a second Christmas every year,” he added.