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BusINess » Business Consumer » Bears merchandise not exactly flying out the door

Bears merchandise not exactly flying out the door

Tom Palinca, store manager at Magic Sports shows off some of the Chicago Bears apparel on display at the sports clothing store. The Bears will meet the Green Bay Packers on Sunday for the NFC championship. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

Tom Palinca, store manager at Magic Sports shows off some of the Chicago Bears apparel on display at the sports clothing store. The Bears will meet the Green Bay Packers on Sunday for the NFC championship. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

What some are calling the biggest game in Chicago Bears history may not be translating into increased sales of the team’s merchandise, according to a local proprietor.

“It’s not like 2006 at all,” said Magic MacKeigan, owner of Valparaiso’s Magic Sports, speaking about Sunday’s Bears-Packers game compared to Chicago’s Super Bowl run four years ago. “The Bears-Colts Super Bowl was our best January ever.”

MacKeigan believes that fans have remained skeptical about the Bears despite their recent winning ways.

“Sales are not what we hoped,” he said. “A lot of people usually jump on the bandwagon, and I haven’t seen it.”

Most of his customers for Bears gear have been restaurant and bar employees, whose owners encourage to dress in blue and orange for the patrons.

“They like it. It’s different than their usual uniforms,” MacKeigan said.

Sales on Bears merchandise could improve if they win the Super Bowl. Like 2006, many people host parties for the big game and purchase items like buckets with the Bears’ logo along with team pennants to decorate the party headquarters.

Otherwise, it actually was another local football team that brought a lot of customers to Magic. The Valparaiso High School Vikings, who went 13-1 this past season.

“We had the best sales for that in years,” MacKeigan said.

Over at Clark Street Sports at Westfield Southlake Mall in Hobart, store associate Eddie Gazaferi said customers have been coming in the last couple weeks buying warm-weather Bears gear like gloves and hats. The store, which carries surplus items from its Chicago Wrigleyville location, opened on Black Friday and was supposed to have closed by now.

“We stayed open here partially because of the Bears’ success,” Gazaferi said.

Gazaferi said Chicago Blackhawks clothing is still amongst the top-selling merchandise but that Bears items “were picking up lately.”

One customer came in to inquire about a framed newspaper headline touting the Bears’ Super Bowl win in 1986.

Aaron Bugajski, a freshman basketball coach at Highland High School, admitted he wasn’t a die-hard Bears fan but was interested in the item nonetheless. He said he has family from Green Bay coming in to watch the game on Sunday.

“It’ll be good fun,” he said.

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