NYC’s Oldest Sports Retailer & Newest Team Play Off Each Other
Brooklyn’s new team, the Brooklyn Nets, unveiled their Jay-Z designed logo and merchandise not at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, but at a true New York retailer on an avenue better known as a traffic artery than a shopping strip. The roots of Modell’s Sporting Goods store at 140 Flatbush Avenue go back to 1889, when the family-owned sporting goods retailer was founded on Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. The profile of this particular location has skyrocketed with the building of the Nets’ new home — the Barclays Center — directly across Flatbush Avenue.
The press conference announcing the new logo was held at the store on April 30, with Brooklyn Nets Coach Avery Johnson and center player Brook Lopez in attendance. Since that day, business has boomed for the Park Slope retailer. According to store manager Nick Chang, the store sold out of 80 percent of its Brooklyn Nets stock that day and scrambled to receive more merchandise from its other Brooklyn and Manhattan locations.
Sales have been good ever since. This summer, the store eliminated 50 percent of its stockroom to dedicate more selling room floor. New York Yankees, Mets, Jets and Giants jerseys are sidelined to a small area, separated by an aisle to the licensed sportwear area now occupied solely by black, white and grey Brooklyn Nets gear, mostly produced by Adidas and UNK. The store’s licensed area square footage has grown 30 times since the simple logo of a “B” within a basketball hit the market.
Chang pointed out the wealth of Brooklyn Nets items; in mid-August, there was more than 100 different items to choose from with five different styles arriving weekly.
“There are plans, especially for our store, for another 100 more [styles] to keep things fresh and relevant. We’ll keep the styles that are the bestsellers. We’re a test store for the Nets women’s merchandise and we’ve been selling through the roof,” said Chang, who also said the off-the-shoulder shirt and tank tops had been the best-selling articles of clothing for women.
Just in that week was the Deron Williams #8 grey V-neck shirt. The store’s two bestselling shirts aren’t so focused on basketball imagery, but are heavy on urban style. One, called “Corner,” shows the silhouettes of sneakers tied by their laces and hanging over telephone wires. Another, “Beatz,” is more popular for its oversize headsets hugging a basketball — a double dunk by Jay-Z, who has a headset line with SkullCandy and as part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, greatly influenced the look of their merchandise.
The swift business is good for sales and is also creating jobs. According to Chang, the store doubled its staff from a year ago and they’re focusing on service.
“We’re getting a lot more tourists compared to last year,” explained Chang. “Really, they’re coming to see the construction of the arena or to see the large Brooklyn Nets jersey we had outside.”