When Stephanie Ganal, whose family owns White Sox fan shop Grandstand, saw customers lining up outside the store near the team’s ballpark, the enthusiasm reminded her of the team’s 2005 World Series-winning season.
“When you have lines going around the building for product, you know the team is exciting,” Ganal said.
But bandwagon-jumping fans just now getting behind the team may not want to wait to buy their gear: The supply chain issues affecting everything from toilet paper to chicken wings are hitting team apparel, too.
“If you’re a fan and you know you’re going to want something to rep the South Side in you, you have to grab it because it might not be there later,” Ganal said.
The team lost its first postseason game to the Houston Astros on Thursday but the teams will face off again in Houston Friday before returning to Chicago on Sunday.
Teams generally drive more sales when they’re doing well, and the Sox are no exception. At sports retailer Lids, sales of Sox hats are up 415% compared with 2019, and apparel is up 197%, said president Britten Maughan.
No Sox player cracked the top 20 most popular player jerseys, based on sales of Nike jerseys on MLBShop.com since opening day, according to rankings released by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players earlier this week.
But a Sox hat is the top-selling item this year at Lids, beating out usual favorites such as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, and players Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu have been especially popular, Maughan said.
Even at Clark Street Sports, which normally sells at least twice as much Cubs merchandise as Sox, the Sox have been outselling the Cubs ever since the team unloaded fan favorite players Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, among others, earlier this summer, said co-owner Jason Caref.
The extra demand, along with supply chain issues, has left certain items — particularly black replica jerseys — in short supply.
Clark Street Sports sold its last Sox replica jersey in July and won’t receive more before the playoffs are over, Caref said. Lids has plenty of white home jerseys, but other styles are tougher to find, Maughan said.
At Grandstand, black jerseys are only available in certain sizes, Ganal said. Some of Grandstand’s orders have been delayed by three months, and others have been pushed into next year.
Grandstand, Clark Street Sports and retail chain Lids all said their shelves are full with plenty of other merchandise, like T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts.
Still, store owners are encouraging customers to shop early as items may be tougher to replace once they sell out. Companies that used to send extra merchandise in a few days are now taking weeks, Caref said.
“If you see it, you should probably buy it,” he said.
Higher costs of shipping goods in from overseas have raised some customer prices, too. Jersey prices haven’t gone up, but hats that typically cost $35 or $40 are now a couple of dollars more, Maughan said.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s new Sox bobbleheads featuring Abreu, Moncado and Luis Robert, made by sports merchandise manufacturer FOCO, escaped supply chain issues and are already in stock, though other items are seeing delays, said Phil Sklar, the hall of fame and museum’s CEO and co-founder.
Even though Grandstand has had to work harder to keep shelves stocked this year, Ganal isn’t worried supply chain woes will limit sales.
“I foresee a long-term future with this team, especially with them being young kids,” she said. “The guys deserve it, especially after last year.”