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Bulls Paraphernalia Moves Briskly - Even in Phoenix

June 23, 1993

CHICAGO (AP) _ The Chicago Bulls have proven they’re champions on the court. They also dominate another arena - sports merchandise sales.

They outsell Knick knacks in New York and Celtic stuff in Boston, according to retailers. And don’t tell Charles Barkley, but the Bulls’ merchandise is even a winner in Phoenix.

Bulls’ hats, T-shirts and other paraphernalia are the top sellers among National Basketball Association-licensed products, NBA spokeswoman Mary Neagoy said Tuesday.

Last year, NBA-licensed products grossed $1.4 billion, according to Neagoy, who said the league does not release each team’s percentage of sales.

″Phoenix ranks in the top 10,″ Neagoy said. ″I think we can expect them to move up.″

To be sold legally, any item that depicts an NBA team must be licensed with the league. And while Chicago is the biggest market for it, Bulls’ merchandise sells well all over the country.

″The Bulls are a very popular team and they’re winning. That’s the combination you need,″ said Jim Root, manager of Gerry Cosby’s sporting goods store in the lobby of New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Knicks’ home court.

The first year the Bulls won the NBA title, in 1991, their merchandise sold far better than the Knicks’, Root said. Shirts depicting Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are favorites among New Yorker shoppers, and sales of Bulls’ posters also are brisk, said Root, who is expecting a shipment of merchandise heralding the team’s third straight NBA title this week.

Bulls’ merchandise also sells well at the Foot Locker store in Phoenix’s Metrocenter mall.

″When the Bulls and the Suns went to the playoffs, I sold every Bulls item I had in the store,″ manager Curtis Doucette said. ″The Suns outsell them, but I think the Bulls’ stuff is right behind.″ Disappointment in Phoenix over the Suns’ 99-98 loss to Chicago in Sunday’s championship game hasn’t dampened the buying fervor.

″Probably the first 10 people who walked in the store yesterday wanted Bulls’ three-peat stuff,″ Doucette said Tuesday.

He said he has 120 Bulls’ championship T-shirts on order, ″and we’ll sell every one of them.″

Chicago has a long way to go to top the Celtics’ eight straight NBA titles, but that doesn’t seem to faze fans in Boston.

″The Bulls are definitely one of my top five sellers,″ said Scott Saklad, manager at Twins Enterprises Inc. in Boston.

″They were my No. 1 by such a margin it was ridiculous three years ago,″ he said. ″It was outselling Celtics’ stuff.″

Though the pace has slowed, ″Bulls stuff will always sell,″ he said. ″Everybody will always buy a winning item.″

Especially in the home state.

″We got three-peat shirts in this morning and we’re almost out of them already,″ said Brad Hicks, assistant manager with Hibbett Sporting Goods Inc. in Carbondale. ″Anything with the Bulls on it is going out the door.″

Hicks stocks some Phoenix Suns’ items, but sales are just a trickle compared to Bulls’ merchandise.

And in the hometown?

″We’ve been selling like crazy,″ especially Bulls hats and T-shirts, said Sharon Starcevich, manager of Chicago Sports and Novelty downtown.

What about Phoenix Suns’ shirts?

″I don’t even have one in the store,″ Starcevich said indignantly. ″Of course not. We are Chicagoans. We’re true to our team. I can’t even imagine it. Not even to make a dollar.″

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