Merchandise commemorating the Oklahoma City Thunder’s historic win is more than a fashion statement.
Official NBA Finals shirts and hats and Western Conference gear were selling out at area stores Thursday as fans scrambled to purchase a piece of the action, a wearable reminder of the team’s victory they can pull out of the closet again and again.
It didn’t matter that in a couple of weeks, there’s a good chance everyone will be scrambling for a new version of the shirt, proclaiming the team national champs (or tucking this one away to avoid being reminded of a loss).
Officials at major retailers Academy Sports + Outdoors and J.C. Penney, as well as the OKC Thunder team store in the arena, said cash registers haven’t stopped ringing since Wednesday night’s win.
At the J.C. Penney store inside Quail Springs Mall, two racks stuffed with shirts had dwindled to one with just a few left by Thursday afternoon. Shoppers from all directions made a beeline to snatch up what was left.
Victoria Evans, of Oklahoma City, still abuzz from the excitement of watching the game live at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, bought four.
“These are the same shirts the players wore, so we want these,” she said.
Customers, many already wearing Thunder shirts, had been buying the merchandise all day. Manager Lisa Danielson said people were lined up outside the door when it opened at 10 a.m. Shirts cost $20 to $22 and were available in sizes medium through 2X, as well as children’s sizes.
Outside the Academy store at NW 63 and Northwest Expressway, customers emerged from their parked vehicles with about 20 seconds left in the game, which they likely had been listening to on the radio, said Eric Herrera, senior communications coordinator for the Katy, Texas, based retailer.
Academy stores across the state reopened after the Thunder victory, selling official finals shirts for $17.99 for youth, $21.99 for men and $25.99 for women.
“It was quite a spectacle,” Herrera said. One cashier compared it to Black Friday, but more focused. “Fans love the Thunder, and they have every reason to,” he said. “They sure came out to show their support.”
Stores remained open as long as there were customers, which in most cases was just before 2 a.m. He said a similar late-night shopping spree will occur if the Thunder wins the championship.
Those who wanted to shop from home were placing orders on the official Thunder Web store at www.nbathundershop.com, which even had international traffic, said Alan Fey, president of Gameday Merchandising, which operates the Thunder team store at the arena.
Fans were able to buy the popular “locker room” T-shirts immediately after the game at the shop and at kiosks in the arena.
“People were excited to be able to get the product first,” Fey said. “The passion here is like no other. The fan base is so supportive of this brand.”
All three retailers said they will continue to replenish their stock of finals merchandise in the coming days.
•J.C. Penney: Locations include Penn Square Mall, Quail Springs Mall, Town Center Plaza in Midwest City, Shops @ Moore and Sooner Mall in Norman.
•Academy Sports + Outdoors: Locations include NW 63 and Northwest Expressway, 7700 S Walker, 2501 S Broadway in Edmond and 2010 24th Ave. NW in Norman.
•OKC Thunder team store: Inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.