Bad seasons, bad sales

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 21, 2003

As the Iron Bowl approaches, fans surprisingly are not running into stores to purchase the popular Alabama-Auburn apparel. Instead it’s sitting on shelves. Manager Catherine Meador at Omni Sports in Demopolis noticed the decline in sales this year; "there hasn’t been significant sales this week, years in the past there have been spurges of Alabama and Auburn sales." Her hypothesis is the teams’ losing season has called off the mass migration to purchase team apparel.

With Alabama and Auburn both being unranked nationally for the first time in 30 years, she just might be correct.

A team’s losing streak can hurt a growing industry. Similarly in the case of the New York Yankees World Series lost to the Florida Marlins. New Era, cap company lost thousands of dollars. The New York Yankee hat was their primary hat, thus a win for the Yankees meant a high demand for it. But the lost cost workers hours of paid work and a number financial setbacks for the industry. Although, Omni Sports, will not go out of business because of the sliding sales, but it’s an indication of how important team season wins effect the economic community.

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Some believe the lack of sales is due to the ailing economy, "jobs have been cut, people have been laid off… the economy is bad, especially in a small town like this," said Major Walker, a faithful Alabama fan.

Others are convinced it is the competitive market. "People probably go to Wal-Mart and Sam’s for Alabama and Auburn apparel… although it’s not authentic, but it looks good."

Many people have avoided shopping at larger shopping centers in Tuscaloosa and Meridian and resorted to purchasing fan apparel from inexpensive outlets like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart employees say, "Alabama sells more than Auburn." A manager remembers, "The sales this year have been about the same."

The Iron Bowl is comparatively one of the most popular and sort after rivalries in the Southern Eastern Conference. Fans would traditionally gather at Legions Field in Birmingham, a neutral playing site, but since 1989, the Iron Bowl playing site has shifted between team school fields. This year, Auburn fans will have the home court advantage. But Alabama fans, are not worried, "I believe Alabama will win, I am a die hard Alabama fan," Lee Gilberry, says, "The team people think will win, usually loses."