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Fall 2012 Sportula Scores Big

Sports concept is winning over the guys.

OhioStateBoastersLifestyle-copyWhen it comes to gifts for guys, sports-related merchandise and grilling items are perennial favorites when shopping for Father’s Day and Christmas. Sportula has merged these two interests to create a seasonal cart focused on moving a high volume of barbecue-related items.

The Warsaw, IN-based company offers three officially licensed products: the Sportula, the Sportula three-piece set, and Boasters coasters. The Sportula is a stainless steel spatula with a laser cut logo and wood handle with a team name heat-stamped on it. Boasters feature the same laser-cut design on stainless steel coasters, and the three-piece set includes a Sportula, matching fork and tongs.

Sportula’s offerings cover major league baseball, NASCAR, collegiate sports and recently received approval for licensed NFL pieces. In addition, Sportula sells products featuring military branches, firefighters and golfers. “For Father’s Day we have ‘#1 Dad’ and grandpa pieces. Our best-selling piece was a camouflage buck last year,” says Marc Roth, Sportula’s specialty retail sales manager.

Most Sportula cart operators open on a seasonal basis, setting up for Father’s Day and the holidays. Between 250 and 300 carts are projected for the holiday season this year. Roth says some Sportula carts open in late August or September to take advantage of football season. About 20 to 30 locations—mostly in warmer southern states and tourist areas—are open year-round.

Josh Donahue, who operates a Sportula cart at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, New York, says he saw the products at SPREE and liked the concept. “We decided to try it for Father’s Day as a trial and were open the month of June,” he says. “The sales were very good and we’re excited to do the concept again for the holiday season. A lot of people asked for the NFL products, and now that Sportula has been approved for them it’s going to be crazy.”

Cart program

The cost for the opening order varies depending on the number of locations planned. For one location the opening order is $10,000—this gets the retailer around 1,000 pieces of product.  For five or more it is $5,000 per location.

Sportula provides marketing images, which retailers can print and use. Jumbo Sportulas can be bought for $300 each and used as cart props. Ryan Nord, Sportula’s marketing director, says the company offers a calculator to show operators how much they can expect to make. “Some [retailers] aren’t as familiar with the teams and what is going to sell [in a particular market]. We assist in telling them something specific that is going to sell and give them the best opportunity to profit.”

The Sportula and Boasters each cost $24.99 retail, while the set costs $49.95. Markup is 250 percent.

Sportula’s goal is to increase its mall presence and the diversity of products offered. “We expect growth to be exponential,” Nord says. “We went from zero to 300 carts in a year’s time. We would love to be in every single mall in America but strategically we’re making sure to grow [at a manageable pace] and support the operators who came on board early and add on new locations.”

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Kristin Larson Contino

Kristin Contino is a freelance writer and copy editor based in Philadelphia. She writes for a variety of print publications and blogs, and also covers women's fiction for

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