SPORTS

Fans flocking to Saskatchewan for the Grey Cup hope to score merchandise

11/21/2013 03:53 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
REGINA - Long underwear in green, rubber ducks with tiny green football helmets painted on them and a foam helmet that looks like a watermelon.

There is no end to the list of things bearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders logo, and football fans flocking to Regina for the 101st Grey Cup on Sunday can't wait to get their hands on the merchandise.

The Riders have had more than $7 million in merchandise sales in each of the last four years, with sales in the 2010 centennial year reaching $10 million.

"We use the centennial year as our measuring mark and as our top line," Riders vice-president of sales Steve Mazurak said Thursday.

"We know that our targets were very aggressive and we also knew were keeping our fingers crossed for the best outcome — of course we've got the best outcome. I'm not quite sure if we'll make that high watermark or not of that $10 million, but you know our sales are just going to the moon, absolutely to the moon."

The best outcome that Mazurak was referring to is the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Grey Cup, marking the first time the green and white has played in the championship on their home turf. The Riders will face the CFL East Division champs, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Football fans, like Tim Low, were combing through the racks Thursday at the Rider store at Mosaic Stadium.

Low, who is originally from Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., but now lives in B.C. said he's still a "loud and proud" Rider fan. Low was already wearing a Rider T-shirt, but looking for more goodies.

"I've got lots of green. We're going to come get some more," laughed Low.

"I need a toque for Sunday. I don't have a toque and just like getting Rider gear and showing it off in B.C."

Jack Thompson of Moosomin, Sask., east of Regina near the Manitoba border, said he's been a dedicated Rider fan since 1965. Like Low, Thompson was already wearing Rider gear as walked around the store.

"There's always more. There's always updates, there's always something (that) looks a little better, a little newer," said Thompson.

Thompson added he also likes the idea of having something as a reminder of this year, when the Riders are in the Grey Cup at home.

Mazurak said the jersey is still the top seller. But there are other options too, like knee length top coats for men to wear to work, he said.

"It's not always all about the green. It's all about the brand and that wonderful 'S' shield. And so we've been highly successful in that total fashion piece," said Mazurak.

Saskatchewan has been so successful at marketing that Mazurak says it sells as much merchandise as all the other CFL teams combined.

"We really feel good about the fact that we can sort of boast a little bit that we do really, really well," said Mazurak.

"Overall, we think we probably do (what) all other teams put together and that's a pretty neat thing to say. We have great relationships with the other football teams and so they're looking to see what our retail folks and our merchandise folks are doing."

Mazurak also described the CFL as "one big happy family" and noted that with licensed products, a percentage goes back to the league and the other teams, so everyone benefits.

"We also know that we're riding quite high these days, but we also (know) that it'll be somebody else's turn another year. And so whether it be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or the Calgary Stampeders or B.C. Lions, they'll make their mark and we'll be looking at them and learning from them and cashing in from their sales," he said.

"So it's all good, it's one big team effort. But right now we're riding a crazy wave and it's a lot of fun to be part of it."

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