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Fans from all over flocked to Pro Shop

Their world has finally returned to normal, whatever normal is following a Super Bowl title.


For a three-week span, though, the Packers Pro Shop was in non-stop mode.

Kate Hogan, the Packers' director of retail operations, said that from the moment the team captured the NFC Championship through roughly a week after winning Super Bowl XLV, you would have thought at any given time kickoff was just moments away at Lambeau Field.

"For us, every day was like gameday," Hogan said. "It was all hands on deck. To have 21 straight gamedays or whatever was incredible. Everybody was so excited and so fired up. It was a lot of fun."

As expected, the Packers' playoff run and league championship have been a boon to merchandise sales. The flood of business earlier this winter applied to the online and call center as well, as Hogan said roughly 50,000 orders were received during that peak time.

"Online, it was like Christmas for us but in an abbreviated time frame," Hogan said. "What we might do from Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday or New Year's we did in a couple of weeks."

As the fiscal year wraps up shortly, Hogan said retail sales will be up around 45 percent from an average year. Final profit numbers are yet to be determined because additional labor costs for temporary employees and overtime, plus packaging costs, must be figured in.

All the extra effort was well worth it, of course. Hogan credited everyone on the Pro Shop staff for staying upbeat despite some long and difficult hours.

For many, their daily interactions with ecstatic fans helped them enjoy the ride. Fans came from far and wide just to buy their Packers gear at Lambeau during the historic championship run.

Gareth Baur, a Pro Shop sales associate, said he met some fans from New Zealand who came just to be in Green Bay for Super Bowl weekend.

Co-worker Darren Lohr said a couple returning from their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic re-routed their return trip to come through Green Bay and stop by after the Super Bowl, not only to buy some championship clothes but also to show off a coconut they brought back painted with a Packers' logo.

Another customer Lohr met had a one-hour layover for a connecting flight at Green Bay's Austin Straubel International Airport, so he buzzed into the Pro Shop for a quick purchase and headed right back to catch his plane.

"He said, 'Being this close, I had to go,'" Lohr said. "It's kind of a magnet around here. If anyone's close, even if they're not a Packer fan … we've had folks come through who said, 'We're just huge football fans. How could I not come here with everything going on?'"

Local fans were plentiful, too. Pro Shop store manager Deb Mulry said some Green Bay residents told her this was their first visit to Lambeau since the last Super Bowl title 14 years ago.

One of the most popular purchases, of course, has been the Super Bowl XLV champions hat. Hogan said 45,000 of them have been sold after 10,000 NFC Championship caps were sold in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

The peak three-week stretch didn't even include Super Bowl Sunday, when the Pro Shop was closed so employees could enjoy the game with their families or, as several dozen got an opportunity to do, take the team's gameday charter flight to Dallas to see the game in person.

Hogan said when that flight returned around 3 a.m. Monday, many of those employees went straight to work, or were back at work within a few hours.

They knew there was a whole new line of merchandise to sell, and they were thrilled to be selling it.

One of the featured items in that new line of merchandise is the DVD, "Return to Titletown." It is sold only in the Packers Pro Shop. The 55-minute DVD relives the moments of Feb. 8, two days after the Packers' Super Bowl XLV victory, as more than 50,000 Packers fans braved frigid temperatures to celebrate the return of the Lombardi Trophy to Lambeau Field.

"It was kind of an unexpected path to victory," Hogan said. "I don't think people really expected at the beginning of December that we'd be going to the Super Bowl in February.

"There was this electricity around it, and rightly so."

Visit the Packers Pro Shop: CLICK HERE

Purchase Return to Titletown DVD: CLICK HERE

Mike Spofford is a 1995 Masters graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University who worked as a sports reporter for two daily newspapers in Wisconsin, covering the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Spofford has been a staff writer since 2006.

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