Toronto Raptors demolish NBA sales records for jersey, merch sales after franchise’s first NBA championship

With each passing win during the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the city of Toronto was slowly evolving from their history as a hockey town and into a basketball city.

For a city starved for sports success and the booming popularity of basketball over the last decade, it all came together when the Raptors kept advancing. It seemed as every single person in Toronto was now not just paying attention to the Raptors, but followed along with giddy excitement reserved for long time fans. Every bar in the city was packed and viewing parties were held all over the city.

The Toronto Raptors was easily the story, not just a sports story in Toronto, but the news across the country.

Championship Boosts Demand for Raps Gear

With visibility and popularity swelling, anything Raptors became red hot.

Queues were forming in front of sports stores such as SportChek and Real Sports Apparel, all over the city to gobble up commemorative shirts, throwback jerseys, replica shorts, We the North sweatshirts, championship hats, team pennants, player bobbleheads and more.

When the rabid fan base couldn’t find their favorite player’s jersey, such as breakout star Fred VanVleet‘s jersey or the throwback Damon Stoudamire jersey Kyle Lowry wore at he Championship parade on Monday, fans got resourceful and created their own custom basketball jerseys.

And those that were lucky to grab up their preferred jerseys paid the price.

“We spent like $600 on jerseys this year,” Raptors fans Jordan Sault told The Globe and Mail.com, as they waited for the championship parade to pass by in downtown Toronto. “At least.” Lexie Smith, Sault’s partner quickly replied.

On the other side, retailers have struggled to keep up with the record demand.

“The demand has been out of this world,” said Nathan Clark is the owner of Toronto’s Courtside Sneakers. “Once (the Raptors) advanced to the Finals I felt like everyone was looking for merch. We don’t typically stock or sell much apparel but I was placing massive orders and selling through before products were even shipped to us.”

Popular players’ gear featuring Kawhi Leonard, Lowry, VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Jeremy Lin, and Marc Gasol are especially difficult to come by

“We spent almost an entire day driving from shop to shop,” said Christopher Mendoza who has been a Raptors fan since their first season. “and literally could not find any Raptors merch to buy,”

They ultimately lost hope of finding any stores that would have any merch, so they went online.

Toronto Raptors Gear Set NBA Sales Records

Apparently, everyone had the same idea too. Hundreds of thousands took their search for Toronto Raptors merch online. In fact, the league announced that the Raptor’s first NBA championship set merchandise sales record for NBAStore.com and the newly-created Canadian version of the NBA Store — NBAStore.ca.

”This means so much to our city and to many in Canada, and we are looking forward to showing everyone the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Monday,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri told NBA.com. ”Bringing the NBA championship to Toronto is the realization of a goal for our team and for our players, and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate together with our fans.”

As of last Friday, combined sales from both the U.S. and Canadian websites continued to add to the record pace. Thus far, the NBA was seeing an increase in sales 100% year-over-year — meaning they doubled the merch sold by the Golden State Warriors championship run last season. Not only that, the popular Fanatics website was also seeing some of their highest sales numbers — from both Candada… and San Francisco.

The NBA Store also set a new record for championship day sales; breaking the 2016 record by 80% when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors.

Not a surprise considering that both won their franchise’s first NBA title in the team’s 24 year history.

“(The Raptors run) felt historically significant,” Katrina Mijares told Yahoo Sports Canada. “It was the first time we made it and there can only be one first time.

 

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