After the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the title of back-to-back AFC champions Sunday, Jan. 24, Chiefs merchandise began flying off shelves at stores across the Northland.
As the Chiefs #RunItBack to another Super Bowl in Florida after winning last year’s big game, apparel store representatives say fandom is reaching an exciting and joyous fever pitch. Rally House locations, including the one near Liberty off Evanston Avenue, stayed open late Sunday to sell AFC champion hats and shirts to eager fans wanting to sport the first available versions of Chiefs championship gear.
At the Rally House location near Liberty, employee Chloe King, who has been with the specialty sports boutique since 2017, laughed and said the Chiefs win and the store’s subsequent late night opening Sunday was not a surprise to her.
“This isn’t my first rodeo,” she said Monday, Jan. 25, as she worked quickly to tag replenished Chiefs merchandise, barely looking up to see the growing line of customers waiting. “People are so excited for the newest pieces that honor the hometown team. They want a shirt. It’s an exciting time again.”
For Christopher Ray, an area manager who was helping out at the Kansas City North location, said the store’s team came in during the third quarter of the game to help set up tables for the pending rush of customers.
“We had the game on the radio piped through the store,” he said. “Of course, we were listening in anticipation as well. The team here was ready to go. They directed people around the tables and I would say people were well behaved. I believe everyone’s excited to do this again.”
As the Chiefs head to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row, fans’ energy has not diminished, Ray said.
“The excitement mirrors last year, but with COVID-19, there have been more online orders as well,” he said. “There’s a positivity we need right now.”
“Last year, I worked the Super Bowl day,” Ray said. “I plan to do that again this year. I guess that might be part of my superstition.”
Megan Rice of Gladstone decided she wasn’t up to standing in line Sunday night, but came in Monday to see if she could snag “locker room” gray T-shirts that declare the Chiefs AFC Champions from Rally House. She came in early and stayed around until the recent shipment came in.
“I am getting three shirts for my mom, dad and myself,” she said. “We are going to Tampa, but I am not sure about the game. We want to go to the area and soak up the atmosphere.”
As for her superstition, Rice wears the same jersey every game and only washes it when the team loses. She even wears the same shoes each game.
“Our family has been season ticketholders, but this year was so different,” she said. “The rituals are so different, but our team is incredible. I am thankful to be in the city and see their success.”
At the Made in Kansas City store’s Village of Briarcliff location in Kansas City, Chiefs items, like those made by Charlie Hustle are a popular purchase.
At Hy-Vee grocery stores, including the Liberty location off Blue Jay Drive, sales of AFC shirts has begun.
“The shirts are here and out,” states a social media post from the Liberty store.
In addition to shirts, the grocery chain is selling a myriad of Chiefs-related food items including the store’s own Mahomes Magic Crunch, which features the Chiefs’ colors, logo and picture of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
In Price Chopper grocery store locations, including Smithville and Kearney, Chiefs-themed food items like cookies, hamburger patties shaped like arrowheads and Topsy’s popcorn have been popular since before the AFC game.
“Your Smithville Price Chopper has been baking up a storm so you don’t have to,” states a social media post from the local food retailer.
At Brant’s Clothing, located on the Liberty Square off Kansas Street, sales of Chiefs merchandise have been “tremendous,” said owner Ralph Brant Monday.
The store sells hats, shirts, jersey, hoodies, masks, decals and all other manner of other Chiefs items.
What has been the most popular item flying off racks at Brant’s?
“Anything red that says ‘Chiefs,’” Brant said. “We’ve been selling a bit of everything. ... We carry everything from the babies to the grown adults.”
Brant, referencing media outlets’ reporting on the Chiefs during a season that came during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the team has been a “bright spot” in an otherwise negative space.
“It’s kind of important we have that happiness,” he said.
Brant’s Clothing has been a staple in Liberty for more than a century. Brant said he remembers when the Chiefs were intimately connected to Liberty as the team used to practice at nearby William Jewell College.
Brant said former Chiefs coach Hank Stram and owner Lamar Hunt used to make players walk from the college to the downtown area to buy items from local shops, including his family’s.
The players were of such size, Brant said, it was hard to find items that would fit them.
“I sold a lot of men’s cologne to those people because it was the only thing that fit,” he said. “But it was kind of neat to stand there — I was young, so it was my dad who would get to talk to Hank Stram and talk to Lamar Hunt. He would actually talk to them and they would be nice. They added to the community.”
When asked if he thinks the Chiefs will win it all on Super Bowl Sunday, Brant said, ‘No.’”
“The word ‘think’ is not an option. I know they are going to win,” he said.