© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Kansas City Retailers Are Ready For A Run On Red Merchandise As Chiefs Fans Gear Up

Frank Morris
Season ticket-holder Greg O'Neal shows off his 'Chiefs truck.'

Lots of people in Kansas City are ramping up for the AFC Championship game on Sunday. If the Chiefs win, they’ll play in the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Some area business are betting on a win, one they hope will trigger a shopping frenzy.

It’s easy to spot team logos around town. Season ticket-holder Greg O’Neal has about a dozen of them on his SUV alone.

“I’ve got six Chiefs flags, I got three Chiefs arrows, Chief’s name and another helmet,” chuckles O’Neal, who’s also wearing a Chiefs cap. “You can see me coming a mile away.”

The market for red clothes is red hot, according to Chelsea Pletke, who manages a big Kansas Sampler Rally House store attached to the company’s headquarters in Lenexa. The place was fairly crowded on a recent weekday morning, with some shoppers ringing up hundreds of dollars worth of Patrick Mahomes jerseys and AFC West division championship shirts.

Pletke says waves of new merch will hit the store next week if the Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“There will be about seven men’s styles, a woman’s shirt and a kids shirt Monday, and then everything starts shipping," she said. "We’ll have hats or Tuesday or Wednesday, polos and quarter zips by Thursday. There’s over 150 styles that we have ordered just for Super Bowl participants and conference championships.”

Pletke predicts that a Chiefs Super Bowl appearance would set off a buying frenzy even bigger than the ones when the Royals went to the World Series. Rally House doesn’t even have the hardware to display all the stuff they intend to sell, so the company’s buying 170 heavy duty steel racks and 70 tables just for the anticipated rush on red clothes.  

The store already has boxes and boxes of shirts on hand commemorating a win that may or may not happen. The Chiefs AFC Champion gear is sequestered in the store room and under video surveillance.

“Oh, it’s a very, very big secret and there are very, very big consequences if any of that leaks out. So it’s brought in and it’s kept in a box, and it’s sealed, and it’s in a special place so nobody accidently opens it or tips it out,” says Pletke.

“I don’t even know what it looks like,” she admits.

So, sports apparel retailers are making a bet on the Chiefs to win and expecting a sales windfall if they do. But you know who won’t be shopping then?

Greg O’Neal, the super fan with the decked out SUV.

O’Neal says he’s loved the Chiefs for decades, and picked up his team paraphernalia years ago when the Chiefs were losing and merchandise was cheap.

Frank Morris is a national correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make non-profit journalism available for everyone.