Store complements online presence for Danbury sports merchandise business
DANBURY — Fans of the NFL can be downright, well, fanatical, so Sal Palladino of East American Sports makes sure he is stocked with anything they may want to show support for their teams.
His new store on South Street is bursting with baseball caps, winter hats, gloves, shirts, sweatshirts, flags, blankets, towels, key chains, golf club protectors, baby bibs and even miniature boxing gloves to dangle from the rear-view mirror.
“NFL is the biggest seller,” Palladino said. “I have more NFL stuff than anything else because I know it sells more.”
He said the Patriots, Jets, Giants, Steelers, Cowboys and Packers are the hot teams for his store.
East American Sports also has licensed Major League Baseball, NHL, NBA and soccer merchandise. It is mostly an apparel and accessories store, but he recently added soccer cleats, shin guards and socks, as well as a limited number of sports balls.
Palladino founded East American Sports in 2007 as an online store, and internet sales still make up the bulk of his business. Opening the physical store has created opportunities with other companies who are licensed to distribute professional sports apparel, such as Mitchell & Ness and 47 Brand, which require vendors to have a brick-and-mortar store.
“Having a store really benefits me,” he said. “It’s nice to have an office and a place to display the merchandise. It’s a bonus when people come here to buy things.”
Palladino sells from a variety of internet platforms. He has his own website — eastamericansports.com — in addition to selling on Amazon, eBay and Walmart, which recently launched a marketplace to compete with the online giants. He guarantees same-day shipping, and every day he packages merchandise to be delivered all over the world.
“I’m a top-rated seller (on eBay). It’s hard to get that status because you have to do everything right every day,” he said. “Amazon will penalize you if you miss the same-day shipping.”
Palladino, a 32-year-old Brewster, N.Y., resident who also owns rental property in Danbury, started selling odds and ends online with his college roommate at Farmingdale State College on Long Island. He continued that path after graduation, starting by selling some of his own sports apparel. He plans to continue working on his own for a career, taking a different path than many of his peers.
The global licensed sports merchandise business is booming. Transparency Market Research estimated the value of the market to be $27.6 billion in 2015. The marketing information company predicts it will grow to $48.2 billion by 2024. North America accounts for more than half of the market revenue.
The NFL reigns as the most popular sport for merchandise, Palladino said, while the popularity of MLB, NBA and NHL ebb and flow, depending on which teams are doing well. The Yankees are his top baseball seller, he said.
He does not sell jerseys because the proliferation of non-licensed, or “fake,” jerseys online makes it hard to compete on price. He takes special orders for jerseys, however, if customers request specific items. All of the merchandise at East American Sports comes from the U.S., Palladino said.
Soccer apparel is second behind the NFL in terms of in-store purchases, Palladino said. He didn’t sell soccer merchandise online before he opened the store, but he sensed the demand for soccer items in the diverse Danbury neighborhood. His intuition was right, and soccer shirts now account for most of the merchandise on the racks in the center of his store. His soccer equipment selection is also growing.
“I’ve had people run in and buy socks because they were on their way to a game and forgot them at home,” he said.
He expects a spike in soccer sales during the World Cup next summer, but said the absence of the U.S., Holland, Italy and some other countries may dampen excitement around the event.
For now, Palladino is at the start of his busy holiday season, which he said accounts for about 30 percent of his annual business. The holiday season follows an unusually busy summer for his business, he said.
“Every year is different,” he said. “But the holidays are always busy.”
East American Sports may be reached at 203-917-3835. The writer may be reached at email@example.com; 203-731-3338
East American Sports may be reached at 203-917-3835.
The writer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-731-3338