The only grip tighter than Chris Sellers-McCaw’s grip on his coffee mug is the one that is gripping Canadian sports fans at this time of year.
With five Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs, the Raptors competing in the NBA playoffs and the Toronto Blue Jays, well, trying their best right now, McCaw says business at the Barrie sports merchandise store is booming.
“It’s going well right now and it’s a really fun time to be in the sports business,” said McCaw. “Everyone is talking about the Maple Leafs and rightfully so, but the other playoff teams are doing great from a merchandise point of view and the fandom is huge across the board.”
The 34-year-old McCaw has years of experience in the industry with his father having owned sports stores throughout Ontario for the majority of his life. McCaw himself ran one of his dad’s locations for about seven years before branching out and owning his own.
Since 2011 McCaw has run the Fan Cave, a 4,800 square foot retail spot in the Bayfield Mall. As soon as you walk into the store you overwhelmed with the amount of merchandise on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and the many rack of teams for everyone’s passion.
“We are the Fan Cave so we have to have pretty much everything you would want," said McCaw. “We jokingly refer to it as Teamism; we don’t discriminate. Obviously it’s tough to have exactly what folks want all the time, but we feel we do pretty well.”
The problem in the world of sports merchandise is stores have to order nearly a year in advance of league start dates. Unless you have Marty McFly’s sports betting book, it’s kind of hard to predict what teams and players will be hot at what time. The reigning NFC East Dallas Cowboys were a great example of the struggle for the Fan Cave.
“C’mon! Would have thought the Cowboys were going to have that season,” said McCaw. “We were scrambling to grab as much Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott jerseys as we could. It is tough sometimes but we just have to stay on top of it.”
Staying on top of it for the Fan Cave means having knowledgeable and friendly staff. McCaw praises his workers, five in total including the boss, and says that along with their friendliness and want to help the customers, they’re fans themselves. That fact not only keeps ideas flowing for what to bring in the store, but makes for some great banter with regular customers.
“Even when we’re busy it’s a great place to be,” said McCaw. “We have people who come in here to grab something and spend about 20 minutes shooting the breeze with my guys about stats or rivalries. We’ve got a couple of TV’s in the store too so there is usually always a game on.”
McCaw himself enjoys sports but doesn’t get too wrapped up in rivalries. Always one to cheer the local clubs, the mainly Blue Jays fan tends to focus on the business side of things and really knows the NFL players because of the Fantasy League he was in this past year.
“I love sports and cheering when the Jays are playing, but I find its better to stay somewhat neutral,” said McCaw. “My dad is a huge Green Bay Packer fan and tends to order more of their merchandise no matter how they look that season. I think being partial is best for business and I’ll let the staff cheer their teams.”
With the Maple Leafs being all the buzz nowadays, McCaw is happy with the sales of the Toronto squad and hopes they do really well as long as they can, but the business owner in him thinks more long term.
“I really think they’re going to beat Washington and advance to the second round,” said McCaw. “But that may be as far as it goes for what’s already a great Leafs season. But this young team is good; very good. I think Toronto wins the Cup in about three years.”
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