Sports Memorabilia and Apparel Sales Increase During Pandemic

DULUTH, Minn.– With baseball’s opening day last week, professional sports have returned to America after being sidelined since mid-March. While they weren’t playing on the field, fans have been finding some ways to keep following their teams during the break.

Major League Baseball, along the WNBA made their returns last weekend. And with the NBA and the NFL gearing up for their seasons, sports apparel and memorabilia shops have been busy.

“All summer long everybody’s just kind of been hoping for something to get up and going,” said Burt Crow, Manager of Pro Image Sports in Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall.

As sports return in the country, so has the demand for apparel and memorabilia.

Leading the charge is a trading card from NBA star Lebron James’ rookie year that was auctioned off for a record-breaking $1.8 million last week.

In Superior, Globe News has been feeling the surge. Store Owner Tom Unterberger says this has been the busiest time for sports trading cards he’s ever seen. The shop has been selling out of everything they are getting in.

Unterberger says his hottest items have been cards for NBA rookie Zion Williamson and basketball legend, Michael Jordan.

The newfound demand he says has come from the sale of the James card, the absence of sports, and people wanting to find a new hobby during the pandemic.

“I think people want to see new players coming up and see how they do,” said Unterberger. “Because there’s been no sports, they haven’t been able to see rookies or draft picks play. There’s been absolutely nothing and these people are wanting to see these guys come out and play.”

Pro Image Sports is hoping to see customers coming back in to gear up for the season with a new inventory of shirts. And of course, jerseys from Duluth’s own CJ Ham, last year’s biggest seller.

Since opening back up in May, Crow says business has been steady at the store. He says one of their best sellers during this time has been baseball caps because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic

Crow says it’s been a long time coming, but he’s glad to see customers and staff talking sports once again.

“COVID this COVID that. What are we doing for testing this? How are we protecting the bubble down in Orlando for basketball? It gets old after a while because it’s like ‘I just want to see sports. I want to see some sports going on.’ So it’s nice to see something anyways.”

Both stores said documentaries released during the pandemic like ESPN’s The Last Dance have had an impact on jersey and card sales.

The busiest time of year for Pro Image Sports is the start football season but with no preseason games this year, they are expecting a little bit of a delay until games the official games begin.

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