Commanders’ merchandise is in demand despite deployment challenges

The name Washington Commanders might have elicited mixed reactions. But the merchandise flying off the shelves in the wake of Washington’s recent rebrand seems to tell a different story.

After the renaming of the “Washington Football Team” to Commanders, the demand is there for Washington’s new gear. Last Wednesday, on renaming day, Commanders had the top four selling items on the Fanatics website. And according to the apparel company, Washington had its biggest-selling day in team history on Fanatics — including the Redskins and football team era.

On Sunday, several Commanders items were still listed as bestsellers – from t-shirts to jerseys to hats.

Fanatics, of course, isn’t the only retailer selling Commanders gear. But as the official online store of the NFL – they power NFLShop.com – they are a strong indicator of how the merchandise is received. And on Wednesday, the company announced that Commanders led the day in sales across all sports.

Despite the seemingly strong sales, there have been some bumps in the rollout of merchandise in Washington. For example, when the Washington retail store opened to fans on announcement day, the FedEx Field store did not have current Commanders jerseys on hand – they were out of stock – and the equipment not expected to ship until mid-May.

And Washington seems to only sell the burgundy commanders jerseys at the moment. The white and black sets are not yet sold on the Fanatics website or in the NFLShop.

“I’m still waiting for @Commanders @Fanatics and the @NFL to make Commanders white and black jerseys available,” tweeted fan HiJack Gaming. “I’m trying to buy like 5 go fam jerseys.”

The team has reportedly experienced delays due to the pandemic. The waiting time also depends on the item. Fan George Carmi tweeted a photo that included four items, two of which were due to arrive on February 22, while others (a hat and a mini helmet) would arrive on March 7 (the hat) and June 20 (the helmet) .

For those who want it, there is plenty of material to choose from. The Washington Times counted more than 150 Commander-themed items on the Fanatics website, apparel that included an “authentic sublimated horizontal team logo plague” ($29) and “fan cave collage of authentic frame” ($59.99).

Of the four Commanders items that led Wednesday’s sales, a charcoal-colored hoodie was the top seller. Behind it was a Terry McLaurin Commanders jersey, a black Commanders long sleeve t-shirt and a Chase Young Commanders jersey.

The fifth best-selling product that day? A red Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey. Brady retired a day early.

In addition to the team selling Commanders gear online and in stores, the team’s marketing department also tried to generate buzz by traveling the district in burgundy and gold Teslas to hand out free merchandise to fans. The team also held a “Park and Party” event at FedEx Field on Friday where fans received a bag of merchandise to show up.

“Never spent a penny on #WashingtonFootball merchandising,” fan Adam Myrick tweeted. “It was a generic name, a placeholder that probably never should have existed. I’m already about $60 on @Commanders merch and couldn’t be happier.

Speaking at the Economic Club last Thursday, Commanders chairman Jason Wright acknowledged that the Commanders moniker was not a huge local hit. But he seemed satisfied with the overall response.

“The context is that 80% of those fans didn’t want the name changed in the first place,” Wright said. “Regardless of what I think or what other people think, that’s their starting point. I’m glad the deployment was professional, that it was on the scale of what we were looking to do, and that they clearly understand why we landed where we landed, even if they didn’t appreciated the most.