Shipping keeps Packers Pro Shop busy
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – The pandemic has put a hamper on Packers fans attending games at Lambeau Field. However, it hasn’t stopped fans from wanting gear of their favorite team.
With the Packers Pro Shop inside the stadium closed for nearly three months during the summer, the online entity – packersproshop.com – became a popular virtual destination.
Fans can shop from the comfort and safety of home and get items shipped anywhere in the world.
“Our online business never shut down, so we’ve maintained business,” said Peggy Prebelski, Packers director of retail operations. “It’s kind of had its ups and downs. In the summer months, it started off a little bit slower, but people were still ordering. At the end of summer, when people would normally travel and we’d have training camp, business went down, but it’s booming right now. Once the season started, business has been good.”
Prebelski said during the summer, people were cautious with money because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“There were a lot of people that were furloughed in their jobs, but as people started to get back to work, business came back,” she said. “So, they weren’t necessarily thinking Packers, they were thinking more necessity. People are now into the swing of things and back to work.”
Of course, Wisconsin residents take up the top spot in where the Packers Pro Shop ships out to most frequently.
Illinois, California, Florida and Minnesota are other states high on the list.
Prebelski, who has been with the Packers on the retail side for the past 15 years, said 1 to 2 percent of the online business is shipped internationally.
“I don’t think there’s a country we don’t ship to at this point,” she said.
Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany are the three top-selling countries.
She said a big reason Germany is high on the list is because of Packer backers being stationed there in the military.
It’s a similar situation in Japan, but Prebelski said she is always surprised by how many Packers fans live there.
“We just have big groups that follow football internationally,” Prebelski said. “We’ve had them come into the store. They have an annual trip, or they come to a game every couple of years. It’s quite fun. They spend a week in town. Some really loyal followings.”
The Packers Pro Shop gathers its online orders and ships out from its retail distribution center located about a mile from Lambeau Field.
The 60,000-square-foot warehouse is a busy place.
“All of our product is received at this building, at our distribution center,” Prebelski said. “We check everything in there and our buyers are located in this business, our eCommerce team, we have a customer service team, a call center and then our distribution team. We have a good group down there.”
Inventory the Packers Pro Shop receives is divided up between its eCommerce, the main pro shop at the stadium, the gameday store and 11 kiosks set up on gameday.
“We ship anywhere from, depending on if we go to the playoffs, 150,000 packages up to maybe 175,000-plus (per year), if we win a division or we win an NFC championship,” Prebelski said.
Prior to Thanksgiving, which is the start of the holiday rush at the Packers Pro Shop, along with the team playing well this season, sales numbers were up from 2019, she said.
In the month of November, the pro shop shipped out almost 39,000 packages.
The Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field is generally a busy place, even during the pandemic.
It closed March 19 and reopened June 15.
Since the building is 21,000 square feet, the organization doesn’t have to worry about having too many people come through the doors.
“We haven’t had to stop anybody from coming in,” Prebelski said. “We do require masks. We do require social distancing. We have all the (Plexiglas) up; we’re contactless and we don’t take cash anymore. The whole stadium has converted to that. We’ve done all the proper protocols, and it’s truly quite a safe place to be.”
Gear for all ages
Some of the most common items that the Packers Pro Shop ships out are cheeseheads, player jerseys, tailgating accessories, coffee cups and barware.
Prebelski said the entire men’s line is an extremely good seller.
“If a player wears it on the sidelines, that typically sells,” Prebelski said.
During the season, the NFL has certain themes each month.
November was Salute to Service month and that merchandise sold very well.
October was Crucial Catch – which brings awareness to the importance of catching cancer early – and special Packers items sold out at the Packers Pro Shop.
Prebelski said that’s pretty common when limited items are available.
There has also been an interesting twist this season, where some fans want to know where the NFL and Packers gear they are buying is being made, she said.
“With the pandemic, a lot of people wanted items made in the USA,” Prebelski said. “So, on our website under trending, we did a ‘Made in USA’ category, so anybody who did not want to buy anything from China, because you get a lot of complaints from people with that kind of stuff. We have a lot of items we like to share with people that are made in the USA. On our website right now, we have 256 items that are made in the USA.”
Because of the pandemic, the best sellers at the Packers Pro Shop store and online in 2020 have been protective face coverings.
“At first, we started with just a couple and then we put them up on our website and they went into backorder and we had thousands on backorder,” Prebelski said.
As of mid-December, there were 28 different varieties of facemasks and gaiters for men, women and children on the Packers Pro Shop website.
The first facemasks became available online at the Packers Pro Shops in March, but because of such high demand and they were still in production, they didn’t start shipping out until about June, Prebelski said.
Between the time the Packers Pro Shop started selling facemasks and Thanksgiving, it had sold close to 40,000, she said.
“(The pandemic is) lasting so long that everybody wants more facemasks,” Prebelski said. “When it first started, everyone had their one mask. I own, I don’t know how many masks. I probably keep six different ones in my handbag.”
When fans see players and coaches wearing certain facemasks on the sidelines, that piques their interest to want to buy that particular mask, she said.
All Packers players and coaches are required to wear New Era masks on the sideline.
Coach Matt LaFleur and some of the players have been seen wearing all black facemasks with the Packers’ G logo on it.
Those are available on the Packers Pro Shop – named Packers Sideline Team Face Cover – for $19.95.
The most popular facemasks being purchased online are the Packers 3-Pack Adult Printed Face Covers for $24.95, Prebelski said.
Other hot-selling items right now include decorative pillows, jerseys, sideline hit hats and Nike shoes, she said.
About 1,500 orders can be shipped out per day, and the warehouse workers go at it seven days a week, so there isn’t much down time.
“We’re a little business, but we do a lot of business,” Prebelski said.