Thoughts from the NHL Store - A Bite Out of the Big Apple
What a weekend
...took the train from Philadelphia on Friday morning with my parents, wife, 9 year old daughter and 3 year old little man to head to the Big Apple. We had planned months ago to stay the weekend, see "The Grinch" and hang out in the city during the Christmas season. While I wanted to do all of those things, the real
reason I was excited about going to NYC was to see the NHL store first hand.
After making the obligatory stops at Sephora, Saks 5th Ave., The American Girl Store (what a racket), the Build-A-Bear Store (an even bigger racket, because I had to stand in line for 30 minutes
outside the door on 5th Avenue with 100 other deranged parents just to get in so I could wait in line another 40 minuets to make two $5 Chinese-made bears that sold for a small fortune after the outfit, sounds and extra #*($#*&*#$ was paid for - I needed a drink) and Rockefeller Center (where I watched people skate who didn't even have pucks or sticks - wtf? Boring), I was finally able to get my liberty and head over to the NHL store on Avenue of the Americas. My wife and kids came along and were exceedingly patient with me as I went back into the store three times. Luckily there is a Starbucks there so they had some things to do while I drooled.
While the location was a little bizarre, as 47th and 6th is not exactly a shopping mecca, the initial impression of the store did not disappoint. When I came to the front of the NHL store at the corner of 47th and 6th, I was just blown away by the wall of glass that encased it
. It was just breathtaking. When you walk in, the first thing you see are three life-size dummies (no not
and two of his cronies) wearing the full Reebok regalia (forgive the Blackberry shots).
To the immediate right was an Orange County Chopper - NHL style. This puppy even has a rack in the back for your own copy of Lord Stanley's hardware (for a cool $100+K)
You can even order a version of your own team's chopper from the boys at OCC for a pretty penny. These things are really cool.
To the left of the entrance was the "wall of ice" where the latest in Reebok skates were displayed. I did not think much of it, until I got closer and saw that it was actually ice. You can use your finger to "carve" sayings into it - very nice touch! I thought of making disparaging remarks about the NHL leadership in ice, but could not find a place to write, since all the space was taken up with Toronto, Montreal, Rangers, Isles or Devils sucking. OK...I wrote the last one.
As you looked along the left-hand wall, three massive, 50 foot tall photos of Marty Brodeur, Jumbo Joe Thornton and Alexander Ovechkin dominated the space from about 15' up all the way to the ceiling. It was impressive, but a little creepy to have Marty Brodeur staring me down as I walked the floor. Nice touch.
While the large photos of the three players were cool, the centerpiece of the store was the collage of over 400 sticks that hung over the registers that supported 5 large flat screen TVs showing highlights - it was simply awe inspiring. I actually found myself standing and staring at this thing, until a young lady working there walked up and asked me if it was my first time in the store...I asked her how she knew that. She replied that all the guys do that when they first walk in. It was that cool.
The merchandise was mostly well done. The retro jerseys and t-shirts (got one) were very nicely done. I really enjoy the retro NHL look, but that is just me. They had a bunch of old retro jerseys from the North Stars, Columbus Barons, 80s Oilers, old LA Kings and Hartford Whalers. But by far the coolest were the jerseys of the Winnepeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques. Those two cities need their teams back.
I walked out of there under $500, which surprised both me and my wife.
The only thing I found lacking was the hat selection. I have more and better hats than what I saw and that surprised me. I would have taken home a few hats if the selection was half-decent.
Unfortunately, I was not able to catch an XM show when I was there.
I like the layout and the presentation media they used to hook both the diehard and casual fan. They had plenty of ground-level, kid height things to keep young ones occupied while the parents spend, spend, spend. Jake, my three year old, was my personal shopper for the afternoon and continuously handed me things, most of which I put right back. The thing that really caught his eye was a matchbox, toy Zamboni of the Florida Panthers and was packaged with an Olie Jokinien card. I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a Flyers version (they had all sold out) but he really wanted that specific one. I tried to talk him into a Canadians or Bruins model but he was set on Florida - I think it was the colors.
Jakey then redeemed himself by picking out a Simon Gagne kid-sized jersey but I told him he could have it only if he watched other shopper's elbows while he wore it. At kid-height, he also found a Flyers wooden hockey stick/wall hanging and proceeded to hack the ankles of the lady next to me - she had a Devils jersey on, so I (mockingly) admonished my little guy. After an apology and a slashing minor, I gave him and high-five as she limped away
. I love that little guy...he is hard core
Jake and I missed 3/4 of the Grinch because he was scared by the Grinch's makeup and the loudness of the orchestra (we were 7 rows from the stage). We made it in just in time to see his heart grow three sizes and then he was OK with the whole thing. My wife, daughter, Jake and I hit Times Square at 10pm on Saturday night just to walk around and take in the sights - of which there were many. (Only some of which I can recount here without fear of getting a warning note from BF
) The ferris wheel in Toys-R-Us is still amazing. The crowd in front of Saks was unreal - you could actually pick up your feet and still move. I loved the energy of the City and the NHL store captured some of that, as well. We took the train back on Sunday morning with heavier bags than when we arrived and it was well worth the trip.
Overall, I give the place a B+/A-.
I was impressed by the job the NHL did with the store. There. I said it.
They did a good job in marketing the sport, the league and the players while inside those four walls. Lord only knows why that cannot seem to translate, but who knows maybe they will get it some day? Perhaps the leadership will take a walk down the street and see people actually standing in line to view their product and pick up the clue phone.
Nah. It sounded good for a minute.
I am glad I had a chance to take in the NHL store. It was worth seeing and I would encourage everyone to get a chance to visit it. It was missing one more thing that could have classed the joint up a bit...a
Thanks for reading...