Saints fans show their true colors and it pays off for retailers
The first NFL shop in the nation for women is located right here in New Orleans, on Magazine Street, and business is booming. “I like that these Saints shirts are body-shaped. They show off the curves, the boobs,” jokes Cynthia Jasper. “They show off everything!” Jasper, a New Orleans East resident, may be retired and on a fixed income, but she set aside $200 dollars for some new Saints shirts tailored specifically for women. “I have men’s Saints shirts that I love, but they’re just not flattering.”
Lakeview resident Ellen Meyers knows how she feels. At 5’1″ this petite-framed fan doesn’t consider $75 too much for a shirt that actually fits. “The men’s Saints jerseys are gigantic,” she says. “They are always down to my ankles. I can either tie a big knot at my waist, get a big belt or sash, or wear it as a dress,” she laughs.
Another shopper who relates is Loyola student Leish Maloney of New York City. “I hate looking sloppy,” says the fashion-conscious freshman, who plunked down $65 dollars for a pink Reggie Bush jersey. “I don’t like New York football teams. My dad is from here, so I’ve always been a Saints Fan.” “Come on,” I ask her, “you don’t have anything Jets or Giants?” Maloney pauses, smiles, rolls her eyes and answers, “Uh, no.”
Men have also gotten the shopping bug. Husbands hungry for feminine Saints gifts for their wives find sexy Saints string bikinis for $50 or black Jessica Simpson cocktail dresses for $148. And for those looking to shell out the big bucks, there are Cole Haan buttery leather jackets, ranging in price from $626 to $896. Young daughters along with dad eye what would make a great Saints stocking stuffer: black-and-gold nail polish, $16 for the set. Sales clerk Elizabeth Jackson says it’s a huge hit. “I’ve seen girls get their manicures done with one hand black and the other hand gold, others go for the black and gold on every other nail.”
Pregnant Saints fans are getting in on the spirit and style of the season as well. The Saints NFL maternity shirt, at $28, is selling out. Susan Heflin, a sales clerk at the NFL Shop for Women says not everyone buying the stretchy black-and-gold number is actually “with child.” “Let’s just say that some of the ladies who bought it are not necessarily a size small.”
Which brings us to tasty treats. To satisfy your Saints sweet tooth, Saints cookies and NFL bouquets of all sizes are selling big-time at Cookies by Design, the Original Cookie Bouquet Company, in Metairie. The gift, a great pick-me-up, is pleasing to the eyes and your palate. Owner Cindy Spann says, “People love our Saints cookies. They love the fact that we can personalize them with their favorite Saints player name and number. Drew Brees is the leading favorite!”
Spann says, “I believe the Saints have given the people of New Orleans hope, that we can come back and prosper as a beautiful city again. We’ve reached the bottom, but the Saints organization has shown us that we can overcome the obstacles and prosper again.”
The future Saints fan base looks especially bright, as proud parents make sure the next generation is growing up fully immersed in the culture and couture of the Who Dat Nation. Long-established Louisiana retailers are ordering Saints stuff in all sizes, as they count on capturing that spirit. For local businesses it appears to be a really good bet.
Tara Fee of Baton Rouge is outfitting her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son at Black & Gold Sports Shop. “I initially spent around $100. The kids’ merchandise is so cute, I went back and bought birthday presents for three children and spent at least another $100. I bought mini Saints footballs for twin 2-year-old boys, a size 6 Saints dress for a 6-year-old girl, along with a matching Saints bow and Saints Silly Bandz bracelets to complete the look. I think the money is well spent. The team spirit brings families together—it’s a mood-lifting experience,” Fee says. “At school, instead of ‘casual Fridays,’ it seems it’s evolved into ‘Saints Fridays.’ It’s not a formal thing, but on Fridays you can feel the parents’ excitement as the kids are so psyched to dress this way. The children anticipate the day, and it just brings everyone together.”
Rita Benson kicked off the season with a private party in the NFL women’s store prior to its grand opening, and once the store cracked open its doors to the public, crowds stretched around the corner. Sales clerks report brisk business, as well as details on the biggest spender, a woman who leases one of the suites in the Dome. The women, in her 40s, dropped $2,500 in a matter of minutes, snapping up everything from Saints sunglasses, Saints jewelry, Saints jeans and other Saints items she planned to give as Christmas gifts. Sales clerks confirm she came in with a friend and acted like a kid in a candy store: “Do you see these? Oh, look at those!” Then with rapid-fire enthusiasm, told the clerks, “I need five of those and 10 of these….” It looks as if the Saints spending spree is in full-swing.