As the Cubs battle the Mets to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945, these are boom times for purveyors of Cubbie merchandise. How long will it last?
Here are nine words you don’t hear too often: It’s a good time to be a Cubs fan. Things look a little shaky right now with the Cubs down by two games in their best of seven series against the New York Mets. But the Cubs are in the postseason for the first time since 2008 and fans across the country are going to enjoy the run for the World Series while it lasts.
And that means boom times for purveyors of Chicago Cubs merchandise. At Wrigleyville Sports, located right across the street from Wrigley Field, business has steadily increased throughout this miracle season. Since the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one-game Wild Card contest, business has soared like a Kyle Schwarber home run. Assistant manager David Colon estimates it has grown “120 percent,” he laughed in a phone interview with Millionaire Corner.
The most popular items are “anything postseason,” including the “Take October” sweatshirt and hats and shirts commemorating the series clinch against the St. Louis Cardinals. Also popular Cubs items at Wrigelyville Sports are the jerseys of marquee players Schwarber and pitcher Jake Arrieta.
Meanwhile, two other Cubs breakout stars, third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo have cracked Major League Baseball’s top 10 for jersey sales nationwide, according to the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“It’s been crazy around here in the past two weeks,” Colon noted. “Business is more than we have seen in the store’s 25-year history.” Game day in-store traffic has reached 4,000, almost double what it was last year.
At the Salt and Pepper Diner, located a block from Wrigley, dine-in traffic has “definitely grown” during the postseason, said waitress Chaz Santiago. “We have nine TVs and they’re all tuned in to the games at max volume.” She estimates business is up 20 percent over last year’s Cub-less postseason play.
But while bar owners, restauranteurs, hoteliers and others in Wrigley’s proximity stand to benefit most this week as the Cubs either advance to or are eliminated from, The World Series, there are more sobering studies that the economic benefit to Chicago will be marginal.
Robert Baade, an economics professor at Lake Forest College, co-authored an academic study that finds that while some venues benefit during Cubs postseason play, others, like movie theatres, may see business decline.
But in addition to the psychological boost of a dream-team season, benefits tend to carry over to the proverbial “next year,” when die-hard Cubs fans along with the bandwagoneers—their expectations raised—will be looking for their team to equal or top their success.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.