Sabres should take charge with custom player t-shirts

The Sabres store can be very hit or miss when it comes to some of the merchandise they offer. Some of it is simply not to my taste while certain items can’t be to anyone’s taste.

As I was discussing the Thirds Not Turds contest with a few people on Twitter last week, friend of the blog @MattyRenn brought up a very intriguing idea which would provide fans with a customization option that would go beyond the typical jersey purchase.

Matt’s idea calls for each team, specifically the Sabres, to provide a service that allows fans to order custom player t-shirts from various points in team history. As a team with a plethora of previous jersey designs, it would allow fans to get a shirt featuring their favorite Sabre along with their favorite Sabres logo and color scheme.

Imagine having the freedom to choose from any player and Sabres logo in team history for your next Sabres Store purchase.

It’s truly a brilliant idea. The team could charge a premium for the service – I imagine upwards of $35 or $40 per shirt – while giving fans the ability to pick and choose who winds up on their shirsey. It would be particularly effective in seasons like this one when barely any players inspire confidence and so many fans are looking to the future or past for good feelings about their favorite team.

This would be easy enough to carry out. The easiest way would be a basic order form where you select the logo from the era you wish to sport and then provide the player name and number you’d prefer. An interactive web forum could pare down the options to either a custom entry or specific players who wore those particular colors. I like the latter idea for continuity reasons and because it keeps the team’s history nicely in line.

If the team really wanted to get creative, some sort of computer workstation in the store could serve as the custom shirsey headquarters where you can see your order on the screen, not unlike the custom jersey generator on the NHL site.

Either way, this is a terrific idea for bringing in revenue from fans who like to hearken back to the black and red goathead jerseys, or the red butter knives thirds. Perhaps someone wants an Afinogenov slug shirt. Who knows? All of those personalities would be served by this idea. It’s foolproof. Dare I say, even the Sabres couldn’t screw it up.

There would likely need to be some form of collaboration from the league and player’s association on this as the league had a customization feature available for shirts and hoodies recently. However, I can’t see how this is a losing proposition for anyone. It’s a cheaper alternative to buying a jersey while not being a direct replacement for buying one. In fact, there’s potential for this to be a big money maker for the league when it comes to eradicating counterfeit jerseys.

The idea of providing a full library of team t-shirts when it comes to logos and players, you not only provide fans with another outlet to spend their money, but you also likely target fans who are less than enthusiastic when it comes to dropping over $150 on a jersey that they may or may not get their money out of.

Buffalo, like many other NHL teams has a rampant influx of counterfeit jerseys in the stands on a nightly basis. Most, if not all fans who choose to buy overseas do so due to cost. Why spend over $150 on a jersey when I can get one for $20 that looks the same? First, Chinese jerseys never look as good as an officially licensed jersey. Second, the money you save doesn’t make up for how bad your fake jersey looks.

Considering the vast number of ugly, phony jerseys running around First Niagara Center on a given night, an option for these fans to pick and choose a more affordable (and licensed) way to show support of their favorite player not only eliminates counterfeits in the stands but also puts more money into the team’s pockets.

The Sabres are lagging behind many other teams who actively call out those who wear counterfeits to the game. In fact, some evidence would suggest that they have no idea what a real and fake jersey looks like anymore.

In an era where suffering has become a buzzword, there’s nothing like being turned down from getting a new nameplate on a jersey you bought from the Sabres in recent years. Of course, this young lady already spent her hard earned money at the store, so she isn’t a perfect case study for Matt’s shirsey customizer or the need for better education on counterfeits. However, for a team that has had so many struggles with jersey design, you’d think they’d have a better grasp on what is real and what’s not.

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