Stateside Sports shoots for local expansion

The pandemic may have put a spanner in the works for most businesses’ plans this year, but local retailer Stateside Sports is pushing ahead with its ambitious expansion plans, which will see it almost double its store network by the end of next year.

Focusing on US sports lifestyle products, the retailer first launched in 2017 and currently has 12 stores and an e-commerce site. By the end of 2021, it aims to be at 20 stores and 30 to 40 in the next three to four years. While its expansion plans were delayed by three months, Stateside Sports hopes to open new stores in the fourth quarter of the year, and plans are in the works to establish a strong foothold in Southeast Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

In the meantime, the business has just embarked on a digital project with Emarsys to create a more personalised customer experience and drive a strong omnichannel strategy in the future.

Stateside Sports offers a range of apparel, headwear and accessories for Australian consumers who appreciate US sports, from Kobe Bryant jerseys to Dodgers caps and Air Jordan T-shirts for toddlers.

According to co-founder Ross Harris, the brand caters to a wide customer base, from loyal fans of basketball and football to those who enjoy the lifestyle and culture of US sports, which is often seen in music and film.

“In the last few years, some of the key teams in the US are now emerging as brands in their own right, like the Yankees, Dodgers, Raiders and Chicago Bulls. They’re more than just a sporting team,” Harris told Inside Retail, citing Nike’s partnership with the NBA in recent years, leading to some “great product and great storytelling”.

Just before the April release of the Netflix documentary on famed basketballer Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, Nike released a pair of Air Jordans which sold out before the opening credits. In May, a signed pair of Air Jordans sold for a record $560,000 at Sotheby’s auction.

“I’ve been amazed by how many people I’ve spoken to who watched that documentary and aren’t normally NBA fans. It drove a strong increase in sales for our Chicago Bulls product, but again, it’s driven in a lifestyle way. It’s not a fan play at all. People just love the story of Michael Jordan and what he represents. The ’90s is such fertile ground for fashion and lifestyle trends and US sport,” he said.

“Another key component for the consumer is that unlike English football, people will follow players and move around which teams to support. It’s not the same kind of loyalty you see in soccer, for example. So, someone may follow [basketballer] LeBron James, which means that over that time, they’ve worn Cleveland, Miami and Lakers jerseys. That would be unheard of in some other sports, but in US sports, that’s a really common theme.”

According to Harris, more Australians subscribe to live stream NBA games than any other country outside the US, and interest in NFL and major league baseball has grown in the past few years.

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