The new Bomber Store at Investors Group Field will be the best of its kind in Canada, says the team’s director of marketing.
"We enlisted two consultants, the best in North America — one from Canada, one from the States," said Jeffrey Bannon, director of marketing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "We tried to model ourselves after who we feel is the pre-eminent sports retailer, which is Real Sports in Toronto."
The new 4,000 sq-foot store is located on the southwest end of the new stadium. After three years of development it features everything blue and gold with t-shirts, caps, jerseys, and even Bomber’s sneakers.
"I’m not going to lie, when I see people walk in that store (it’s like) ‘Wow,’" said Bannon. "We came from very humble beginnings at Canad Inns Stadium… so when we sat down with our consultants it was the ‘wow factor’ that we wanted."
In addition to its size, the main difference between the new store and the old one, formerly located at the soon-to-be late Canad Inns Stadium, is the going to be speed of service.
"At the old store you’d have to wait in a line 20 to 30 minutes long on game day," said Bannon. "Sports fans want their merchandise but they also have to get their seat, watch their kids, get food, and they don’t want to be waiting in line."
The new store has six cash registers ready and waiting for consumers to reduce waiting times for their loyal clients, said Bannon.
"The store is busier after a loss than it is after a win," said Bannon. "I don’t know why. People come in and ask us about the team ‘Why did they lose? Is something happening with them?’ Its water-cooler talk."
Bannon said it shows how loyal the fans are in Winnipeg.
"I’ve seen the loyalty of these fans first-hand," said Bannon, reflecting back to 2008 when he was the store manager. "The devotion of these fans is amazing. Even after some days when we’ve lost, I think ‘Are we really that busy?’ So you sit back then you realize the passion this community has for its team is amazing."
Slowly but surely, those loyal fans are making their way out to the new store, said Bannon. Now that it’s located at the University of Manitoba in southern Fort Garry, fans on the other end of the city will have to make a trek for their favourite sports apparel.
"At the end of the day we need to make sure it’s worthwhile for the blue and gold customer to come by, and I think we’re doing that," said Bannon.
For fans at the games there are merchandise stalls around the bowl of the field, and then another, smaller store, similar in size to the old Canad Inns store on the opposite end of the field.
The store will also carry University of Manitoba Bisons merchandise and official CFL goods from the seven — soon to be eight — other CFL teams.
Bannon said there are plans ongoing for a more central Bomber Store in the heart of Winnipeg, but nothing is concrete as of yet.